Nottingham Hoods vs Reading Rockets

In a very high tempo affair in the East Midlands Rockets performed well without the services of Sam Grant ( slipped discs ) and not having yet replaced the ‘out for the season’ A J Carr as they travelled north with just 10 players. Rockets had beaten Hoods at home in late October by 98 – 85 and secured a single point win in the National Cup in Nottingham by 78 -77 in late November but this was a stunning performance by Rockets as they overcame Hoods with a 30 point victory that looked secure after the opening quarter 33 – 12 blitz.

Rockets won the tip and Ben Dixon stroked the first of his three trebles before Matias Boho maintained his significant improvement with a stop and a treble as seven of Rockets players all scored in the first six minutes of the game as they opened up a double digit lead at 20-10. Liam Davis was strong on the boards and scored well inside the paint and with his trade mark pull up jump shots too. Nick Richards drove to score before he sent his assists around the arc for Ed Potter to finish which was only bettered when Potter waited for Richards to arrive high and at speed for Richards to score with a great slam and bring the travelling supporters to their feet. Potter worked tirelessly around the boards and was rewarded with seven personal points in the opening period which Rockets won 33-12.

Thinking ahead to the following day’s game , Head Coach Alan Keane was looking for every opportunity to rest his six senior players releasing the academy players with much court time. Keane began the second quarter with three seniors on the bench and it was a delight to see David Obediah give an assist to Richards before Richards gave Dixon an assist for Dixon’s second treble before Boho was the recipient of yet another Richards assist as he sank yet another treble and Rockets had a twenty point lead at 42-22. Davis continued to score inside and then finished a fine Rockets move with a huge slam dunk. Rockets defence was also exemplified by Dixon as the Aussie raced back to make a steal and stop a Hoods score. With just 17 seconds before the interval Pau Mayor brought the ball up court before making a fast drive to the basket where he scored, was fouled and hit the penalty shot to see Rockets with a 53-26 advantage.

Rockets speed of offence caused Hoods much trouble and though Hoods took the third quarter by 25-22 with a 6-0 finishing run, Rockets still enjoyed a 75-51 lead going into the final period. Dixon had his purple patch with seven personal points whilst Potter caused trouble around the basket as he hit six more points including one play where he made three fake moves before scoring under the basket.

With a long return journey ahead (not returning to Reading till 1 am) the players and coaching team wanted to continue the high tempo. This they did as David Chive stroked a treble as did Mayor , Davis continued his dominance inside the paint and another academy player, Asher Ndah continued his development with nearly 19 minutes court time and a score off a offensive rebound. Dixon scored off a fast Rockets break before Coach Keane rested all his starting five. 18 year old Kelsey Espeut got his debut court time experience with an assist to his captain Potter before Mayor hit Rockets last 5 points to seal a very good team performance and crucial win on the road with a thirty point victory 97-67.

Top scorers for Rockets were Liam Davis with a double double of 20 pts and 11 rebounds as all Rockets six seniors turned in double digit scores for the first time this season. Ben Dixon and Ed Potter hit 15 pts apiece with Pau Mayor having 13 pts and Nick Richards 12 pts.

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Nottingham Hoods vs Reading Rockets

In not the prettiest of games littered with too many mistakes for Head Coach Alan Keane, Rockets grinded out a fine victory away to mid table Hoods. Rockets got off to a good start with an 11-4 opening five minutes as Sydney Donaldson imposed with his determined drives, A J Carr did what it says on the tin…rebounds and scores inside, whilst captain Danny Carter controlled the defensive boards. Hoods took a time-out and went on a 17-4 run to ease ahead 21-15. Both teams hit their only trebles of the first half and Hoods kept their advantage at four points at 35-31 at the interval.

The early exchanges in the third quarter saw both teams keeping tabs on each other but Hoods maintaining their four point lead until a steal, coast to coast and finish from Trae Pemberton turned the heat up and Rockets went on a 11-0 run to lead by 49-44. More excellent team play saw Academy student Arinze Emeka- Anyakwo swish a treble from the top of the key but again Hoods fought back and hit four free throws to see the period end in Rockets’ favour at 56-52.

Another Academy player making his way in the top English league stroked a treble quickly followed by Adrian O’Sullivan’s first treble of the game to have a double digit advantage at 63-53. However Hoods Mayer who hadn’t scored in the first twenty minutes of his court time, came alive with four consecutive trebles to draw the scores level on 65 as Rockets lost point guard O’Sullivan who received four minutes treatment on court as he’d been wiped out as he drove to score. Being unable to continue 16 year old David Chive stepped up to the line and scored from both the free throws. Hoods kept pace with Rockets at level on 67 and 69 with 1.59 remaining. Rockets experienced players stepped up to the mark in the end game scenario taking down defensive rebounds, driving and drawing fouls, using the clock wisely to keep control and finish with a 7-2 run to move up the league with another victory at 76-71.

Top scorers for Rockets were A J Carr with 22 points, Trae Pemberton with 16 points, and Sydney Donaldson with 15 points.

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