Westminster Warriors vs Reading Rockets

Rockets scored their highest ever first half points in their 20 season history against bottom of the league Warriors this afternoon and in so doing extended their unbeaten run to fourteen games, securing second place in the league spot too. ( See league table attached ).

With Warriors having led Solent Kestrels with less than four minutes to go the previous night, Rockets were in no mood to relinquish their winning streak to the winless London outfit. Juan Valerio hit the first of his three trebles in the opening quarter within four seconds of the game start whilst Craig Ponder and Ali Sbai each hit a brace as Rockets blitzed the first period by 33-19. Sbai also went coast to coast and Ponder threw a glorious cross court pass to Sbai to stroke a treble. Danny Carter sent the first of his assists to Ponder before  scoring from his own rebound and then dishing the ball to Ponder and Sbai in open space to add to Rockets total. Rockets had successfully hit seven trebles in the quarter with a 66% conversion rate and were on fire.

Rockets kept up the relentless speed and movement as the second quarter began with Chris Hooper  scoring with a slam and a trademark spin move. At just 5’2” Bikram Rana is usually the smallest player on the court but the Academy student stroked a treble of threes in just six minutes with Paulin Jardim dishing one great assist to him and Carter another. Carter obliged Sbai with a treble and then Jardim saw Carter open and sent a glorious assist to him to add to Warriors woes. Bikram Rana then took a courageous  charge and Sbai hustled on the floor to gain possession for Rockets off which Fidel Gomez finished off the glass as Rockets took their record breaking opening half score to 62 points whilst keeping Warriors to just 27 pts.

Though it would have been difficult to lose the game from this position unless Rockets capitulated, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces knew no team lies down and having had a fifteen minute break for the acting coach to re-energise his troops and send them into battle, Pena Garces was right to be concerned as Warriors took the third period 26-16 as Rockets slowed the pace, made many mistakes, took poor shots and lost concentration. A 10-2 Warriors end of quarter run saw Warriors close the gap from 76-43 with less than four minutes left in the period, finish 78-53 having eaten into Rockets 35 point half time lead.

Craig Ponder needed to settle the team and personally contributed nine of the seventeen points Rockets scored in the final stanza. Hooper also rose to the challenge scoring off spin moves and a drive as five Rockets players ended up with double digit scores and Bikram Rana hit nine points as Rockets closed out the game at 95-77. Pena Garces would have been happy with the offensive plays but frustrated by the lack of concentration when well ahead. He knows his team has a tough last eight games as they seek to take the league title.

Rockets now prepare for a double header weekend starting with an away fixture in Leicester on Saturday before entertaining National Cup finalists London Lituanica at Rivermead at 5 pm on Sunday.


Westminster Warriors vs Reading Rockets

Considering the two previous encounters between these teams had been titanic affairs with Rockets edging one game by three points and the other being a double overtime game which again Rockets edged, a resurgent Rockets blasted past the Warriors with another fine team display just in time for the National Trophy Final next weekend.

Head Coach Pena Garces took all four juniors with him for this game as new father D’Montre Edwards had only returned from 6 days compassionate leave 5  hours earlier in the day and Tony Robinson was still recovering from his fall 2 weeks ago. A Jordan Nicholls assist to Robinson set Rockets on their way before Danny Carter did likewise for Robinson to score. Nicholls then dished a pass to Joel Keeble to hit a treble and give Rockets  7-2 early advantage. But Warriors went on their best run of 13-2 to lead 15-9. A Carter block and assist to Wayne Yeboah was quickly followed by Keeble finishing a fast break before Nicholls hit the first of his three trebles to draw the scores level on 19 apiece at the first break.

Eight quick points from Edwards coupled to a treble from Carter saw Rockets ease ahead to 30-23 before Carter made another block and Fraser Glass made a three point play giving Rockets a double digit lead they were never to lose for the remainder of the game as they imposed themselves at both ends of the court. Fidel Gomez stroked a penalty shot and David Ajumobi slam dunked seconds after Nicholls had scored with another treble, taking Rockets fifteen points ahead. Warriors hit four points as the interval beckoned but Rockets were in command at 41-29  with a 22-10 quarter.

Edwards had enjoyed a personal haul of eight points in the second period as Carter added seven to his total in the third quarter beginning with a superb treble from some excellent Rockets team play. Nicholls hit a treble and Edwards scored on the buzzer as Rockets began the third quarter with a 8-0 run to lead by twenty. A Robinson steal and finish made the score 53-30 midway through the period but Warriors had their best sustained scoring with three trebles in a 11-2 run which was ended by Edwards with a score off an offensive rebound to leave Rockets 57-41 ahead .

The final quarter began with Ajumobi driving to score and then throwing a length of the court pass to Robinson to lay it up and take Rockets to a 62-42 lead just 90 seconds into the period. Edwards gave Carter an easy score before smashing an alley hoop from a Robinson brilliant assist. Another Ajumobi score and a Glass floater saw Rockets storming away at 76-46 but they wanted to finish on a high too. Having kept warriors to just a single point in the first five minutes of the third quarter, they kept them to just five points similarly up to midway  in the final period. Carter stroked a treble and was rested as Ibu Jassey Demba took to the court to score with a jump shot followed by a treble.  Gomez hit another penalty stroke and Rockets saw out the game with an impressive 28-14 final period and thirty point victory with a great team effort. Confidence oozed out of each of the players and Pena Garces will hope such a performance will give the team much encouragement as they seek to take the scalp of the league leaders and National Cup winners Manchester Magic next Sunday in the Trophy Final at the U.E.L. Sports Dock tipping at 4 pm.

Top scorers for Rockets were Danny Carter with 19 pts, D’Montre Edwards with 18 pts, Jordan Nicholls with 11 pts and David Ajumobi with 10 pts. but this was Rockets second consecutive good team performance of 2016.

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