At Loddon Valley Leisure Centre in front of a noisy and appreciative crowd, Rockets turned an indifferent 31-38 first half into a storming 54-38 second to take the victory necessary to secure a home draw in the Play-off Championship which starts next weekend.
Ex Rockets and fans favourite David Tintin Watts was the scourge of Rockets from the tip as he stroked majestic shots and took down rebounds on the very court where he began his Rockets career some ten years ago. Captain Danny Carter scored Rockets first points and Jordan Nicholls hit the first of a brace of trebles before Trailblazers went on a 7-0 run. Overall top points scorer D’Montre Edwards finished a fast break but a Derby buzzer shot saw them have a 21-16 lead at the first break.
They extended this with the initial play of the second quarter before Tony Robinson, David Ajumobi and Edwards scored to see Rockets a single point adrift. Five quick Tintin points eased Derby to a nine point lead at 32-23. Edwards finished the period on a high as he finished a fast break, made a crucial block, gave an assist to Robinson and scored off the glass to see Rockets 31-38 down at the interval.
Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces must have worked hard with his players during the fifteen minutes as they came out a different outfit with the experienced Carter, Edwards and Robinson leading the charge with Wayne Yeboah again picking up vital rebounds around the basket. Carter scored seven quick personal points, Yeboah scored and suddenly it was a one point game. A Carter three point play saw Rockets have the audacity to lead and then Edwards hit a jump shot before a slam dunk , a defensive rebound and then an outrageous alley hoop thanks to a Robinson assist to set the arena alight . Robinson made another Rockets three point play and Edwards scored with a floater. When Fraser Glass scored both free throws it was Rockets who went into the final quarter with a 59-51 quarter having taken the period quite brilliantly 28-13.
Another slam by Edwards saw Rockets with a double digit lead which they kept and improved upon as the quarter progressed much to the delight of the fans. A Carter drive and left hand finish was followed by a key offensive rebound and score by Robinson. Yeboah added five points and Ajumobi and Edwards stroked majestic trebles to ensure a crucial Rockets victory at 85-74.
At the time of going to press Rockets do not know their quarter final opponents as four teams are locked on the same points with one of them becoming Rockets opponents, and Rockets have the last league game of the season away tomorrow against champions elect Manchester Magic. For sure Rockets will be at Rivermead for a 5 pm tip off in the Play-off quarter final next Sunday 3rd April.
Top scorers today were D’Montre Edwards with a season’s best of 30 pts., 13 rebounds, and four steals; Danny carter with 16 pts., and four assists; Wayne Yeboah with 12 pts., and seven rebounds and Tony Robinson with ten points and 13 rebounds.
Without the injured Danny Carter and at their second venue of Loddon Valley Leisure Centre , Rockets came back from 15 point deficit to take a hard fought victory. The game started well for Rockets as they burst into a 6-0 early run but this proved to be their only run until they lit up the arena at the start of the fourth quarter with a 9-0 to take a single point lead and which encouraged them and the supporters that a win was possible.
D’Montre Edwards scored the first four points and Wayne Yeboah had a base line finish before N’bria went on a 14- 4 run to take the first quarter 14-10. Rockets couldn’t buy a basket for most of the period using whatever formation Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces chose. The second quarter saw N’bria hit three trebles to move the score along quickly and leave Rockets in their wake. Rockets found themselves 15 points down with just three minutes to the interval . Edwards had an eight point blitz as he made a three point play , scored off the glass with his next move and stroked a treble before David Ajumobi did likewise on the buzzer and see Rockets just 28-37 down at the halfway point.
Edwards opened Rockets scoring in the third period before Yeboah scored form yet another offensive rebound. An Ali Sbai lay-up just rolled away before yeboah hit a jump shot to see Rockets just five points down. A Sbai three point play kept Rockets close but another N’bria treble eased them away from the home side. A couple of blocks from Tony Robinson and Edwards stopped certain scores for the visitors who looked comfortable with a lead that varied form six points to eight throughout the quarter . A Yeboah steal and finish reduced the deficit but Rockets still found themselves with a 41-49 hurdle going into the final stanza, principally through poor finishing.
But that was not to be an issue in the fourth period as Pena Garces unleashed them onto court. Robinson hit his first treble of the night , Yeboah scored as only he can . Rockets two Americans lit up this period as Edwards scored with a finger roll off a Robinson assist and Rockets had the lead at 50-49 with their best run of the game so far. N’bria hit a buzzer treble and had a three point play to lead by four again. Back came Rockets through Edwards and Robinson to tie the game on 55 each but N’bria stroked another treble, their seventh of the night to keep the advantage as the end game beckoned. Robinson scored with a pull up jumper and Edwards had a slam dunk to remind everyone in the arena that Rockets wanted this game. N’bria levelled again at 63 and 65 . Edwards was fouled and went to the penalty stripe to score a pair before N’bria went to the line but failed with their second shot and Rockets saw out the remaining 3 seconds to enjoy the northern team’s scalp and keep them with a realistic chance of securing home advantage in the Play-off Championship quarter finals in 3 weeks’ time.
Top scorers for Rockets were D’Montre Edwards with 24 pts., and eight rebounds; Wayne Yeboah with 14 pts., and nine rebounds and Tony Robinson with 11 pts., nine rebounds and four assists as he had a most influential second half.
Rockets now travel to …tomorrow for a lunchtime game against Lituanica who are also vying for a home draw in the play-offs so another vital game awaits.
Reading Rockets 87 v 84 Westminster Warriors
In an enthralling encounter at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre on Saturday night, Rockets extended their unbeaten league run with a narrow 3 point win. Both teams knew that the contest was likely to be both physical and tight as Rockets five point win in National Trophy game at Westminster just 5 weeks ago had evidenced.
The game began with David Ajumobi signalling the importance of the command of the boards with a big defence rebound before both he and D’Montre Edwards had trebles come back off the ring before Dian Ivanov hit Rockets opening points. The American duo of Edwards and Antonio Robinson exchanged passes before Edwards slammed his first dunk moments before Robinson opened his personal tally. Some great team play by Rockets with Ivanov and Danny Carter finishing clinical moves soon saw Rockets with a 10-0 run and 12-2 lead. Warriors stroked the first of their seven trebles before Robinson made yet another interception. A high defensive rebound by Edwards coupled to Joel Keeble’s glorious treble saw Rockets maintain that double digit advantage at 17-7. A Keeble block and Carter tip in took Rockets to the first break 21-15 in the lead.
The returning from injury Wayne Yeboah scored and Keeble and Robinson each hit trebles before Edwards lit up the arena with back to back dunks from assists from Jordan Nicholls keeping Rockets with a nine point lead. An Edwards steak and Robinson pull up jump shot took Rockets to the interval 38-32 up.
An Edwards score followed by a superb assist to Carter for a three point play edged Rockets into an 11 point lead. However Warriors lit up the court with four trebles in this quarter despite fine Rockets play which saw Edwards dunk off a bounce pass from Carter and one of the smallest players on the court, Jordan Nicholls, take a charge from the biggest and most experienced Warrior player on the court Julius Joseph. Courage personified . With Carter hitting four from four from the free throw line, the game was close with each score seeing the lead swapped. A Warriors jump shot brought this period to a close with Rockets now trailling by a single point at 60-61.
A Yeboah steal saw Keeble score as both teams were tied for much of the quarter. A Robinson defensive leap and coast to coast score raised the temperature in the arena as Rockets supporters yelled their approval. Edwards hit the floor hard but from that position hobbled to his feet to receive a long pass, score and tie the game again. A Carter block kept Rockets with the slenderest of leads but a Warriors treble with just 35 seconds left of normal time gave them the anticipation of victory. But an Ajumobi finish and huge block saw the scores level on 75 points each and the realisation of another overtime game for Rockets.
Warriors stroked a treble but Ajumobi found Yeboah and Carter drove to score. A couple of free throws later from Carter saw them three points up though Warriors drew level on 82 with 3.2 seconds remaining. A Rockets shot came back off the rim taking the teams into double overtime.
This time Warriors failed to hit a pair of free throws and great hustle from Robinson ensured Rockets were not in the mood to lose their unbeaten league record. Edwards hit his two free throws, Carter and Yeboah one each as Rockets were two up as the last minute approached. A further Robinson free throw gave Rockets a 87-84 victory as all the players had given their all in most compelling and hard fought game between two evenly matched sides.
This was a much better team performance after a pair of losses with captain Danny Carter leading the way by example with 24 pts, 10 rebounds and 9 assists in a most complete lead role. Antonio Robinson had 16 pts, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals with D’Montre Edwards also having 16 points and 8 rebounds. Joel Keeble hit 10 points and Yeboah and Ajumobi had 11 and 8 rebounds respectively.
Now Rockets have a double header up north next weekend before travelling south to Worthing Thunder for the National Cup quarter final on 29th Nov.
Before an appreciative crowd at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon, Rockets progressed without too much fuss, into the quarter final of the prestigious National Cup . Rockets have won this trophy on two previous occasions and were finalists last season too. Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces wants to bring silverware back to the Berkshire club this season and saw his team, depleted due to injuries to captain Danny Carter ( knee ) and Joel Keeble ( rib ), ease their way to the latter stages after an 8 -1 opening blast by Raiders. David Ajumobi got Rockets troubling the scorers from the free throw line before stroking the first of Rockets trebles of the game. A steal, coast to coast and three point play by Ajumobi got Rockets within two points of Raiders and brought the impetus for a 16 -5 Rockets run which saw them to the first break 21 – 15 up.
With Tony Robinson having to be rested, Fraser Glass and Jordan Nicholls led Rockets and brought energy whilst the three Academy players, Bikram Rana, Ali Sbai and Tyler Foard all gained very valuable court time. A 25 – 14 second period with D’Montre Edwards and Ajumobi being in double figures points wise and also commanding the boards, never stopped the gallant and talented Devon outfit relentlessly fight back . The knowledgeable crowd rose to acclaim 16 yo Foards first points of the game and a brilliant three man swift move finished by Wayne Yeboah kept the crowd applauding. 22 points up and the quarter drawing to a close was no reason to relax as Edwards made a trademark block leaving Rockets 46 -29 ahead at the interval.
Continual quality moves and finishes by Rockets kept the crowd alive with anticipation of the next move and score and Rockets didn’t disappoint as Glass hit a big treble, Edwards scored with one spin and another fade away shot before Dian Ivanov started and finished a fast break . When Yeboah made a three point play and Nicholls dished to Edwards for him to add to his personal tally, Rockets enjoyed a 25 point advantage and though Raiders hit four unanswered points, Edwards stopped the momentary rot as he rose majestically and swatted away a potential Raiders score with a huge block leaving Rockets comfortably ahead 61 – 41 as the final quarter beckoned.
After sealing the game early in the fourth period, Ajumobi and Edwards were rested in front of an appreciative crowd who recognised the effort and skill behind their statistics. Nicholls scored with a way out treble and was fouled in the process making it into a rare four point play. The Academy juniors enjoyed being given the responsibility of the end game scenario which they saw through with aplomb. A Glass double penalty score ended the game in Rockets favour 89 – 59 meaning Rockets will face their erstwhile southern rivals Worthing Thunder, away, in the quarter final on Sunday 29th November.