Reading Rockets (4-1) will take to the road this weekend when they firstly head to the East Midlands to take on Derby Trailblazers (2-3) in NBL Division One on Saturday evening (7.15pm tip-off) before making the short trip from Reading to Southampton to play rivals Solent Kestrels (4-2) on Sunday afternoon (3pm tip-off) in the National Cup quarter-final. Rockets bounced back from their defeat to Manchester Magic the previous weekend with an impressive 95-74 victory over Bradford Dragons last Sunday to keep up the pace at the top of NBL Division One as they face a tough double header weekend.
Saturday evening’s opponents, Derby Trailblazers narrowly lost out to Sunday’s opposition Solent Kestrels by 75 points to 73 last weekend and in all five of their NBL Division One games the win/loss gap has been no higher than 9 points. Solent Kestrels will also provide a difficult test for the Berkshire outfit having already beaten them in the National Trophy earlier this season by 93 points to 78. Both teams overcame lower division opposition on their way to the last eight of the National Cup competition with the Reading team defeating a spirited BC Medelynas London by 93 points to 77 and a convincing 124-44 win against Cardiff City whilst Sunday hosts gained comfortable wins over Barking Abbey Crusaders (102-45) and Westminster Warriors (86-67).
Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was happy to see his team bounce back from the defeat to Manchester Magic but knows this weekend’s double header will be another stern test for his side. The Reading play-caller said,
This weekend will be another great test for us. Derby is always a tough place to go and although they are still building for their season they pose some threats we must negate if we are to go there and win. I like what Coach Matt (Shaw, Derby Trailblazers Head Coach) has done over the years with his teams and we will be working hard to better ourselves to give us a chance to perform well against a good, organised unit.
After Saturday’s game is when we will then turn our attention to Sunday’s knockout game against Solent. For us, they have been a tricky team to play against but the experience we do have is one of learning and how we must be better against a strong group who have started the season very well. We know the areas we want to focus on for this game so when we have navigated this week and Saturday’s game, I feel we will be ready for a tough battle!
Rockets go into this weekend’s league and cup double header with no new injury concerns with Coach Manuel Peña Garcés having a full roster to select from including Under 18 duo Iñigo Perez Baena and Adrian Nosa Castillo who missed last Sunday’s win over Bradford Dragons due to an Under 18 game. Division Four regular Charles Acquah-Davis has been a part of the roster in the previous few weeks as cover but looks set to retain his place in Reading’s top team as they look to remain in the top four of NBL Division One and reach the final four of the National Cup.
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