Tag: #rockets

Rockets retain important trio as Captain Carter returns for a sixth straight season

Reading Rockets have re-signed three players from last season’s squad in the shape of English shooters Ali Sbai and Joel Keeble as well as ever-present club captain Danny Carter.

Carter, 28, had no hesitation in putting pen to paper for his sixth successive season despite a heavier workload after his head of year promotion at the John Madejski Academy this term. The 6’9 forward is the longest serving player that has come through the club’s junior programme and four years in the United States at Stonybrook University, and the Windsor native is more motivated than ever to bring silverware back to his club. The Englishman was arguably one of the Rockets’ most productive players last season and has been working hard during the down months in the gym and on court. In speaking about his return to the Reading team, Carter said,

“ I am really happy to be back and more so I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. As you get older you appreciate a lot more things around you and one of those things is your body! I have been working really hard in the gym and on the court because I know that to be the best player and leader I can be, this is a must if we as a team are to face the upcoming challenges with the ultimate goal of returning silverware to Reading.

Carter will be joined by sharp-shooter Joel Keeble who has been plagued by injury during the last two seasons but the 23 year old will be hoping his third term with the Berkshire outfit is a healthier one. The 6’6 guard sat out the majority of the second part of last season with a fractured wrist but looks set to be fully fit ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. In speaking ahead of his return from his hometown of Ipswich, Keeble said,

I am really looking forward to being back and actually playing and contributing this season. The last two seasons have been frustrating in terms of injury and performance but I am hoping I can repay the faith that’s been shown in me this season and contribute to the team in any way, shape, or form in our quest to bring some silverware back to Reading. I have been working in the off-season to be fit and ready and I can’t wait to get started.

Also returning from last year’s team is 19 year old guard/forward Ali Sbai. The Moroccan-born shooter played a significant part in Manuel Peña Garcés’ team last time out and was also one of the leading players for the John Madejski Academy in the Elite Academies Basketball League (EABL), guiding the team to their first ever play-off position. The 6’5 former academy player has signed his first contract with the Berkshire club and will be hoping to use his experience with the Great Britain Under 20’s squad to contribute again this year. He said,

I am really happy to be given the opportunity to come back and play this season after finishing in the academy and I will be doing everything I can to help the team win some silverware this year. I can’t wait until the season starts as I have missed playing competitively and I am looking forward to linking up with my new teammates.

Rockets will be announcing some exciting new signings in due course.

Rockets Basketball Fixtures

Reading Rockets will open up their 2017-18 season campaign with a trip to last season’s NBL Division Two champions Kent Crusaders on Saturday 23rd September, (tip-off currently to be confirmed), before hosting their play-off conquerors from last season Team Solent Kestrels on Sunday 24th September at Rivermead Leisure complex (5pm tip-off). Both games see the start of the National Trophy group stages with Worthing Thunder being the other outfit to make up Pool 3. Rockets’ first NBL Division One league game should see them travel to face the leagues other new boys Team Newcastle University on Sunday 8th October but this fixture is still to be confirmed. The Berkshire outfit will begin at home the following weekend when they take on Hemel Storm on Saturday 14th October, 5pm tip-off.

Rockets will join this season’s National Cup competition at the third round stage on Sunday 15th October and will play away at either Oxford Stealers, Oxford City, Swindon Shock, or BC Medelynas London. This season’s opening BBL Trophy game will take place before Christmas on Sunday 17th December with the Berkshire outfit’s opponents yet to be drawn. The Reading team will finish off their regular season with a double header away trip when they take on last season’s NBL Division One Champions, Team Northumbria on Saturday 24th March at Sports Central before being hosted by Lancashire Spinners the following day, Sunday 25th March, in their final game of the campaign.

The squad will start their pre-season proceedings prior to this on Tuesday 29th August with Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés back at the helm for a fifth season assisted once again by newly-appointed JMA Academy Director Alan Keane. Both coaches have had an extremely busy summer but are looking forward to returning to Reading and have the goal of claiming silverware this year after a three year absence. Head Coach Peña Garcés has been working with the Spanish Federation over the summer period, delivering on the country’s top coaching qualification as well as holding a number of clinics for coaches from in and around his native Spain. Assistant Coach Keane led the Great Britain Under 18 Men’s team to the silver medal position in Division B at the European Championships but more importantly and impressively gaining promotion to Division A at the first time of asking.

Rockets will open up their pre-season period with a trio of friendly games in their second week of training, the home games being behind closed doors. The Berkshire outfit will play their annual friendly game against Team USA Select on Tuesday 5th September at the John Madejski Academy, before hosting a Norwegian team, Fyllingen who play in the top league in Norway on Friday 8th September. And their busy week will be rounded off with a trip to the Brentwood Centre to take on old rivals and now NBL Division Two outfit Essex Leopards. The two teams have had some memorable games over the years and the Rockets quickly accepted the invite to take on the Leopards on Saturday 9th September, 7pm tip-off.

The club will be announcing their roster in due course with a couple of returning players in the mix as well as two new import players as Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés looks to put the pieces of the jigsaw together and mount a challenge with his young, new-look squad for the 2017-2018 season.

Follow the Rockets on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website – www.readingrockets.co.uk


Reading Rockets basketball team has acquired the services of two influential Reading-based businessmen, who have pledged their commitment to the future growth of the club.

Technology specialist David McKenzie and leading sport authority Nick Humby join the Rockets’ existing management structure at a time when the popular basketball club is looking to take its activities to the very highest level.

“Rockets has always been a people-first club,” commented Reading Rockets Chairman, Gary Johnson. 

We have always wanted to work with the right people at the right time to grow, to ensure we have solid foundation upon which to build. Sport has its ups and downs, like anything in life, but the most important thing is for us to have people in charge that act with morality and correct intentions. In David and Nick, we have really hit the jackpot. These are exciting times for Reading Rockets!

David McKenzie is an Account Director with Oracle with an extensive ten-year background in the technology industry. David started work at the age of 16, after being selected via a Scottish government backed scheme to find the country’s new business leaders. Entitled ‘The Recruit’, the initiative was based on the popular format of ‘The Apprentice’. A massive sports fan with a wealth of experience working with large sporting brands, David now wants to extend that knowledge locally, by helping Reading Rockets reach the BBL.

McKenzie said: 

Sport has a massive part to play in any local economy and culture. I was fortunate to attend the Olympic Games in 2012, and saw first-hand the Commonwealth Games legacy for Glasgow. Sporting diversity is the lifeblood of many communities. It has a unique ability to bring people together, tackling both social and health problems. Rockets have been an institution in Reading for the past 20 years. As a relative newcomer to Reading, while making my home in the town, I knew Reading has the potential for a wider range of sporting success. My job is to help push the team towards the next level of professional status. It’s time for lift-off!

Nick Humby has seen most things in sport right up to the highest peaks. Through Nick’s time as Chairman of British basketball, and his time at some of the country’s most prestigious sporting institutions (Manchester United, Football Association, Lawn Tennis Association, to name just a few), he brings to Reading Rockets a vast array of knowledge and experience. In his role, he will be at the helm of the club’s drive to have improved facility access in Reading.

Madejski Academy player Ali Sbai has been named in the initial Great Britain Men’s Under 20 squad

Reading Rockets are delighted to announce that John Madejski Academy player Ali Sbai has been named in the initial Great Britain Men’s Under 20 squad. The 19 year old has spent the last three seasons with the Rockets which culminated in him playing a leading role in the JMA EABL Under 19s team last term as well as playing an important part in theclub’s NBL Division One Men’s team.

JMA Academy Director Matt Johnson was full of praise for the 6’5 forward. He said,

“We are incredibly proud of Ali and his achievement. He has worked hard on himself on and off the court and deservedly gets this chance after a strong season as one of the younger players in Division 1.
Ali has represented JMA and the Rockets well over the past 3 years and we certainly wish him the best in this next part of his journey.”

Sbai will join up with his team mates after finishing his post season work in Reading on Saturday 24th June as the team prepare for the European Championships in Romania which start three weeks later on 14th July.