Reading Rockets

In a tight fought opening game away to newly promoted Westminster, Rockets missed opportunities in the last 21.6 seconds to secure victory as from a single point lead at 84-83 , Warriors drove to score and then hit a pair of free throws to win the game.

After Warriors opened the score returnee Ed Potter sent an assist to Bristol Flyers loanee Liam Davis to secure his first Rockets points with a slam dunk, something he repeated 3 times in the first quarter as he totalled 8 personal points. The titanic affair saw the teams level on 10 points each before Australian Ben Dixon sent a superb pass to Spaniard Pau Major to open his account and see Rockets 15-10 ahead. However a 13-4 run by Warriors had them go into the first break leading 23-19.

A Davis treble and hook reduced the deficit but Warriors replied with a treble. A technical foul called on Nick Richards appeared an officious action but Davis and Dixon scored to see Rockets down by just 32-33. A Matias Boho treble followed a pair of Warriors free throws to tie the game on 35. Potter took a charge to stop a Warriors score but they still extended their lead to 42-36 just 3 minutes before the interval. An exchange of trebles by both teams kept Rockets at bay before Major hit a treble quickly followed by a drive score to see Rockets trail 47-49 at the interval.

A Dixon drive score and great floor hustle upped the Rockets tempo at the start of the third quarter and soon saw the scores level on 51 and 53 but Richards was called for a second technical foul and had to leave the arena just under 4 minutes into this crucial period. Head Coach Alan Keane now had to give more court time o the inexperienced Academy guys and play the new signings more than he initially hoped. He needn’t have worried as Asher Ndah scored to see Rockets take a slender single point lead at 56-55 but a brace of Warriors trebles and a successful conversion of another free throw saw Rockets trail 58-64. With just over a minute of the quarter remaining. Up stepped James Jolly to hit a free throw and Davis hit 4 unanswered points including a buzzer beating spin score to see Rockets only 63-64 adrift as the final period beckoned.

The fast and sound offensive play by Rockets off Warriors early possession surprised Warriors who gave away 3 very quick fouls though they still managed to increase their lead to 70-65. Rockets needed some inspiration and the tenacious Potter fought hard in the key and received 3 assists to score 6 quick points coupled to an offensive rebound free throw . When Dixon made an interception to stop a certain Warriors score, the Rockets supporters and bench were encouraged and soon levelled the game on 72 , 75 and then 77 points with a little over 3 minutes on the clock. A Davis assist to Major saw Rockets edge ahead again 79-78 and keep that slender lead at 81-80 before a Warriors treble with 45.7 seconds gave them a 2 point advantage at 83-81. Coach Keane time out saw Boho fouled and he hit one from two from the line before another Dixon steal edged Rockets ahead 84-83 with 21.6 seconds left but Warriors were not to be denied a winning return to Div.1 as they hit the final 3 points to take the victory.

It had been a titanic battle from tip to buzzer and Rockets will be pleased to see the return of the 2 influential Academy players David Chive and Sam Grant together with the arrival of last season’s Player of the Year A J Carr as his visa has now arrived and he arrives mid-week.

Top scorers for Rockets were Liam Davis with 27 pts, Pau Major and Matias Boho Sayo with 14 pts each and Ed Potter with 12 pts.

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Westminster Warriors vs Reading Rockets

In another pulsating and most exciting game, Rockets extended their winning start to the season with this win against another previously unbeaten side in the National Trophy pool stage. The win takes Rockets to the top of their pool and certain progress to the quarter finals in the New Year.

From the first tip to the last play, there was a fast and furious pace with quality basketball from both teams. Warriors scored almost 50% of their points before the interval with seven trebles whilst Rockets first treble didn’t arrive till the final quarter and crucially, giving Rockets a three point advantage with under two minutes remaining. That was the manner of the game, Rockets working well offensively but pegged back by some outstanding Warriors shooting. Both teams grafted and gave everything to try and secure the victory form tip to final buzzer.

The game began with Joel Keeble side-lined with a broken rib which will keep him out of the side for 5-6 weeks so again 17 yo Academy young man, Bikram Rana was drafted into the team as Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces was conscious that Dian Ivanov was still carrying a groin injury and could only play a few minutes in short bursts if needed…and he was !! The new look Warriors with BBL stalwart and player coach Julian Joseph at the helm, were certain to be a different team than last seasons’ team and how true that proved. Both teams failed to score in the opening two minutes and then both sides swapped scores tying the game on many occasions until a D’Montre steal and finish to complement his slam dunk and pull up jump shots edged Rockets ahead 23 -21 at the end of the first quarter with Edwards personal tally 14 pts.

Like the Head Coach and a couple of other players, Edwards was suffering from the effects of a cold so was rested for much of period two. The Wayne Yeboah and Fraser Glass rose to the occasion with ten and eight personal point respectively. Warriors hit five trebles to keep coming back even though Rockets had a nine point advantage as the quarter was coming to a close. With Danny Carter also spending much time on the bench, this was a different plan by Rockets to secure the win as they lead 50 – 46 at the interval.

An eighteen points each quarter saw Rockets keep the four point advantage (68 -64) going into the final period though again they had an eight point lead in the last minute of the quarter which was reduced but a couple of scores from Warriors in the final moments. A pair of big blocks by Carter stopped Warriors progress and good defence caused Warriors into another 24 second violation. Edwards fake, spin and score was one of the highlights as was Tony Robinson’s steal and coast to coast score.

The crowd were expectant as both teams took to the floor for the final quarter in this compelling game. A tip in by Edwards, a Yeboah finish of  a sweet Rockets team move, a David Ajumobi score  and then a Robinson steal for Glass to score saw Rockets with a 76 -66 lead. The double digit advantage was soon erased as warriors went on a 10-0 run to level on 76 points each with two minutes twenty seconds left. After a time out Glass took a crucial charge and Robinson hit first and very important treble of the afternoon. An Edwards score from his own offensive rebound was added to Warriors misery as Ivanov scored for a trademark wide shot. Robinson went to the line to ease Rockets to a seven point lead with just twelve seconds on the clock and the sweet smell of victory in their nostrils.

With injuries and sickness, this truly was a great team performance especially when this was Rockets fifth game in fifteen days. They ow have a two week rest before a double header home weekend  on 24th and 25th October at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre tipping at 7.45 pm and 4. 45 pm respectively.

Top scorers for Rockets were D’Montre Edwards with 25 pts., Tony Robinson with 15pts.,  Wayne Yeboah with 14 pt. and Fraser Glass with 12 pts.

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