Conscious of a double header weekend ahead of them Rockets were keen to get the league win ahead of the National Cup 3rd round at Birmingham the following day and set about their challenge with zest as they stormed the opening quarter 21-12.
A J Carr sent the first of his 7 assists to 6’9” Liam Davis to slam dunk to open Rockets account which Carr followed up with a second assist to Ben Dixon and a third to American guard Nick Richards within the first 3 minutes of the game showing his value to the Reading team. Davis played well inside and outside the box as he stroked a treble and drew fouls as he scored in the paint. When Carr hit a treble wide out thanks to a Pau Major assist, Rockets looked comfortable at the end of the first period.
But what a fight back from the hosts as they stroked 4 trebles as they raised their game and were clinical offensively as they took the second quarter 26-23 whilst Matias Boho stopped one offensive with a huge rejection but still the talented Liverpool team came forward threatening with every move. Carr and Richards hit trebles for Rockets but with 14 points off Rockets turnovers, Head Coach Alan Keane was not pleased seeing this stat at the interval. Liverpool had also scored 11 points off fast breaks and made 8 steals as they fought tenaciously to reduce Rockets advantage at the break to 44-38.
From their biggest lead of 23-12 early in the second period Rockets needed and again had a strong third quarter though a 9-0 final run by Liverpool saw Rockets advantage slightly increased to 65-57 thanks mainly to a brace of key trebles from 18 year old David Chive and 6 points apiece from Davis and Richards. Two highlights included some great team work giving Rockets a 15 point lead at 60-45 and a crucial defensive rebound from Davis which saw the ball quickly out to Carr who lifted a ball high over the basket for Davis to come flying in and score with an alley-oop. With just a couple of minutes to the start of the final stanza Rockets again looked to have control but an unopposed 9 points finish by Liverpool including a 3 point play 0.3 seconds from the buzzer encouraged the hosts having fought back from a 21-10 run to finish the quarter just 8 points adrift at 65-57.
A defensive rebound from Richards stopped Liverpool’s first offence but they did score off yet another Rockets turnover, quickly followed by a jump shot to reduce Rockets lead to just 4 points. A Dixon finish off a Carr assist and a Richards drive eased Rockets out to a 7 point advantage at 69-62 but 3 trebles from Liverpool in less than 2 minutes either side of a Richards floater score saw Rockets stay ahead but by just 2 at 73-71. However yet again Rockets stayed 3 points ahead after a Carr assist to Dixon. But Liverpool would not give up and kept coming and staying within a single score of a win on their home court……and with their treble shooting so effective ( they hit 12 during the game ) , Coach Keane knew his team needed at least a 4 point advantage in the end game scenario that was brewing. 6 ahead with 2 minutes 20 seconds remaining had Rockets 6 in the lead but another Liverpool treble brought them closer to their goal. Carr scored but Liverpool replied immediately . A Richards treble effort rimmed out and Liverpool stroked their twelfth treble to get within that single score at 88-86 with 16 seconds left on the clock. Liverpool took a time-out but Rockets stopped their offence and Chive was fouled as he took down the rebound taking him to the line whee he hit 1 from 2 so Rockets led 89-86 but Liverpool had the ball and probable final play. Focus and high intensity defensive was the order of the day and Carr made the crucial block and went to the line for the final penalty shots. 1 from 2 made the final score 90-86 in a most competitive and rewarding game for Rockets. Still much to work on for Coach Keane and his coaching team but they stay second in the league with a 5-1 record.
Top scorers for Rockets were Nick Richards with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals with Liam Davis having a second consecutive double double by hitting 16 points and taking down 13 rebounds besides making 3 assists. David Chive hit 15 points including 3 trebles and made 4 assists whilst A J Carr was very influential with 15 points 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Ben Dixon was Rockets 5th player in double figures with 13 pts and 3 assists.