Reading Rockets vs Bradford Dragons – Qtr Final Match

 

Rockets did finally slay the Dragons but not until the final quarter where a 25-11 score line made the crucial difference as a determined Dragons team fought tenaciously and well throughout. Rockets preparation had been thrown into disarray with shooting guard Scotty Hendricks in his sick bed and Danny Carter having only been able to do a couple of training sessions due to the birth of his first child. Nonetheless with assistant coach Alan Keane away at the Commonwealth Games with England, Director of Coaching Matt Johnson stepped into the breach supporting Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces.

Realising Hendricks might not have as much in his tank as usual, Pena Garces started him and was rewarded with a 7 point contribution which included a smart treble, a drive and a lay-up. Dragons kept in close contention drawing level on 9 and 11 respectively before moving ahead with a 6-0 run which was only stopped by a great interception by Man of the Match Declan Soukup. Tim Gill pulled down a couple of offensive rebounds to score inside and see Rockets with a slender 19-16 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The second period saw six trebles shared by the teams with captain Danny Carter hitting back to back ones after the scores had been tied on, 21, 23 and 25. Ed Potter accepted an arrow pass from Soukup to score and then spun to score again.  Having had to spend much of the opening quarter on the bench after picking up a couple of personal fouls, Sydney Donaldson drove to open his account and give Rockets a 36-28 advantage with less than two minutes before the interval but again Dragons came back with a 11-2 finish leaving the score 41-40 at the break.

An 8-2 Dragons start to the third period saw Rockets 5 down which Dragons extended to nine within four minutes of the quarter starting at 55-46 . With Donaldson quickly picking up his fourth personal foul, Rockets were facing a huge fight to secure a semi final place as Hendricks had fallen and injured his hand though after minutes with the physio team, he persuaded them to release him back on court where he added 7 more points. With Soukup playing a majorly influential part as he coordinated all that best from Rockets, the packed arena knew Rockets still were in this most competitive of games where the winner takes all. Soukup and Ali Sbai was secure from the free throw line but Dragons took the period 27-22 to start the final quarter 67-63 ahead.

Hendricks was now clearly in some pain as he stayed on the bench with his head covered with a towel but his American colleague Tim Gill played an outstanding quarter with 11 personal points and 4 rebounds as he spun to score, went inside drawing fouls and finished assists from Soukup.  Soukup also took control of the game by the haunches as he scored an audacious treble to help Rockets take the lead at 70-69 on the back of a 7-2 run. Rockets highest crowd of the season raised their voices and after Dragons drew level on 72, it was only Rockets from then on as they commanded the boards, finished clinically and stopped Dragons scoring with some great defence.  A 25-11 final quarter reflected Rockets dominance in this period as they secured the vital win and a semi-final away to Hemel Storm. This will be played at Sportspace, Hemel on Saturday night with a 7 pm tip. In the two league games Rockets won at home by a single point but lost away by seven so a tough tie lies ahead for the Berkshire outfit to secure a Championship Play-off Final spot.

Top scorers for Rockets were the magnificent Declan Soukup with a double double of 26 points, 10 rebounds coupled to 5 assists. Tim Gill had a double double with 15 pts ( 11 in the last quarter ) and 10 rebounds as captain Danny Carter and the injured Scotty Hendricks hit 14 pts.’ each.

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Reading Rockets vs Derby Trailblazers

Rockets moved into third position and extended their winning streak to six with another brilliant win at Rivermead tonight, despite not returning to the town till gone midnight after the overtime away victory at Leicester last night. A Midlands double began with an avalanche of Rockets trebles in the opening quarter where they hit five from eight by four different players as they stormed through the period 34-17 whilst Derby got their breath. Rockets turned on a special show for Mother’s day where all the ladies attending received a free cuppa !!

Looking to build confidence to the lesser experienced players and resting his key guys as much as he dared, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces rung the changes frequently before the interval by which time Rockets still enjoyed a fifteen point advantage at 61-46. Jonny Foulds took a couple of hands in his face as he stood firm to take charges whilst Ali Sbai sent the arrow pass of the first half to Tim Gill who continued his domination of the boards whilst also adding to his personal points tally. A pair of Sbai stops and a wide score lifted the crowd. Declan Soukup made his customary steals and sent assists around the court as Rockets hit a season high points score before the break of sixty one. With Donaldson 100% from beyond the arc, Rockets had a comfortable lead but knew not to be complacent against a talented Trailblazers who finished the second period with four straight trebles to stay in touch with a rampaging Rockets. Seven of the last scores in the quarter were from trebles as Ed Potter got in on the act as did Sbai.

A 7-0 run encouraged Derby at the start of the third period but another Donaldson treble stopped the rot. Derby hit another four quick points but then Scotty Hendricks sent an assist to Jonny Foulds to hit a treble moments before being the recipient of great inter-passing from Rockets and draining a treble. Then Gill came up with a tough three point play extending their lead to twenty at 78-58 mid way through the period. A couple of technical fouls from Derby’s Head Coach meaning he was ejected, didn’t help Derby but they fought on reducing the arrears even though Carter made a block and then a tip in to see Derby trail 68-85 as the final quarter beckoned.

A final 24-19 period saw Rockets hit three figures on consecutive days, a rare occasion for the Berkshire outfit as they come into fine form with just three league games left though two are against the champions elect Solent Stars next Saturday and then a double header finish up north against defending champions team N’bria and Lancashire. Hendricks was in mesmerising form from beyond the arc as he stroked four trebles in the last quarter, two of them from well downtown !! Donaldson showed the breadth of his game as he went base line to score, hit a jump shot and made a brace of steals in this period to cap a fine all round performance. It was only proper that Rockets finished with a treble as they amassed fifteen during the game, their biggest by far this season .

This was a very good team performance with all players making meaningful contributions and all scoring 7 or more points. Top of the scorers were Scotty Hendricks with 26 pts.,5 assists and 4 rebounds; Sydney Donaldson with 23 pts.,5 steals, 3 assists and 6 rebounds; Tim Gill with his customary double double of 17 pts., and 13 rebounds and Jonny Foulds with 11 pts., and 4 rebounds.

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Reading Rockets vs Manchester Magic

This was no magical journey as from ignition to the return to earth for the Rockets team, they lit up the arena at Rivermead with probably their best display of the season. Keeping the talented Magic to just 62 was awesome but to score 97 in the process was magnificent, though the Rockets coaching team well understand there’s somewhere to go to where they hope to be by the time of the Play-off Championship in 8 weeks’ time.

Manchester scored with their first possession but a Sydney Donaldson dish to Scotty Hendricks gave the impish shooting guard the chance to hit his first treble and set the scene for some scintillating  offensive plays. A Jonny Foulds steal and finish was supplemented with a reverse lay-up form big man Tim Gill before the first of some great team play saw the American score again. Hendricks went coast to coast and Ali Sbai drove hard before sending an assist to Gill. When Hendricks made a steal, finished and hit the free throw Rockets enjoyed a 22-10 lead but Magic went on a 6-0 run ensuring Rockets advantage was just 22-16 at the first break.

Declan Soukup was spraying passes across and the length of the court and Danny Carter took down a rebound and gave a telling pass to Ed Potter to open his account. It’s good to see Carter as he continues to gain full match fitness as he showed his immense value with a block and points form the free throw line. A huge down town treble from Hendricks got the packed arena acclaiming the skill whilst also giving Rockets a 30-22 lead midway through the second quarter. Donaldson arrived from no-where to soar above the Magic defenders and score with a spectacular offensive rebound before the developing Academy player, Adrian Nose scored and Potter finished with 4 quick personal points to see Rockets to the interval with a 42-30 advantage.

One of the best quarters seen at The Mead this season ensued as Rockets blitzed the period 33-18 as Foulds,  Soukup, Sbai and Hendricks sunk trebles point and another Academy player Alex Drinkie scored from wide out before finishing with a pair of free throws as he took down an offensive rebound and was fouled. Excellent quick interposing was a joy to the eye as Drinkie passed to Hendricks who passed to Carter who scored, drew the foul and made a three point play . Carter repeated the feat a minute later before Soukup made a steal and pass allowing Hendricks to score before a block by Drincic saw Rockets go into final period leading 75-48.

A Sbai spin move and wait by Soukup till Gill arrived to score was followed by some interpassing by the guards Soukup and Foulds enabled Soukup to lay up as Rockets extended their lead to 83-48  with a 8-0 run. With the game all but won Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces gave all his Academy players much court time together as they saw out their biggest ever margin of victory against their northern rivals, encouraging as the end of the league season beckons with league places  determining who gets the four home ties. As Rockets entertain league title contenders, Team Northumbria at home next Saturday before journeying to the Midlands to play second in the league Loughborough Student Riders a week later, the next fortnight will help Rockets staff and supporters see how well paced they are for the final awards of the season.

Top scorers for Rockets were both Americans, Tim Gill with 19 pts and 7 rebounds whilst Scotty Hendricks showed his visiting girlfriend his repertoire of skills as he also scored 19 pts., took down 5 rebounds, made 8 assists and made a brace of steals. Danny Carter  had 15 pts., took down 5 rebounds and made a p[air of steals and Declan Soukup was majestic with 9 pts.,6 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals and Jonny Foulds also hit 9 pts., and took down 7 rebounds.

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Reading Rockets vs Team Newcastle University

In a very low scoring game in which Rockets rarely got into their stride and the visitors stroked key scores, Rockets had a chance to pinch the win as they got to a single point deficit with 29.6 secs remaining but Newcastle hit three from four free throws from the penalty stripe to take the spoils.

It had all looked fine as Rockets blitzed into a 6-0 lead with Tim Gill scoring inside and Joel Keeble scoring from wide out but a 23-9 run by Newcastle, including four trebles woke the guys who appeared a little complacent initially but then knew this was going to be a battle. From 23-15 down Newcastle extended their advantage to double figures early in the second quarter and built on that as the period progressed, looking more comfortable as they stopped the ball reaching yesterday’s top scorer and danger man Tim Gill. With Rockets only scoring ten points in the paint before the interval spoke volumes to the surprised supporters. Newcastle had a big lead of fourteen points mid-way through the quarter but a brace of back to back trebles by Keeble and Sydney Donaldson followed up by a great buzzer beating tip in by the influential Ed Potter saw Rockets close the gap to just 27 -34 at the break.

Another good crowd was waiting with baited breath hoping to see Rockets capitalise on their 8-1 run but with Jonny Foulds being called for his fourth foul within 40 seconds of the re-start, hopes diminished to some extent as Jonny is a brave player and Rockets needed to see this characteristic on court. Up stepped Ed Potter who had his best Rockets game since he moved up from Rockets Div. 4 side in Oct as he fought for every ball as if his life depended on it, took down rebounds like the leagues’ leading rebounder Tim Gill ( whom he matched ) and showed a determined attitude and determination to try and get the victory.  However Newcastle scored at the right moments as Rockets missed easy shots and lay-ups and found themselves ten points adrift again. American combo guard Scotty Hendricks upped his game with a brace of trebles including one on the buzzer to leave the game tantalisingly poised at 45-39 in Newcastle’s favour as the final period began.

Despite a Donaldson score Newcastle opened up another double digit lead . Good assists from Donaldson to Potter clawed Rockets back into the game and then Hendricks drained another treble to see Rockets close to four down and apparently in the ascendency. When Declan Soukup gave Potter a score and Potter hit the penalty stroke the difference was just one at 56-57. Then Donaldson drew the teams level before Newcastle edged ahead with yet another crucial treble. Back came Rockets as Soukup scored from beyond the arc and levelled it at 60 each with less than two minutes remaining. Newcastle missed a pair of free throws and Rockets fans hoped the pressure was getting to the visitors but they kept possession as they outrebounded Rockets to two possessions. Then with the 24 second clock about to be extinguished a Newcastle shot dribbled round the ring and fell into the basket giving them a couple of points lead with 29.6 secs left. Gill stroked a brilliant treble for the corner and Rivermead was a hive of noise as another single score would give Rockets the win. However Rockets couldn’t gain possession and Newcastle went to the free throw line for two successful shots and the win leaving Rockets and their supporters disappointed though recognising that their team had nearly pulled off victory.

Top scorers for Rockets were Ed Potter with 15 pts., and 8 rebounds; Scotty Hendricks with 12 pts., 6 rebounds and three assists and Tim Gill with 10 pts., and 8 rebounds. Declan Soukup had seven rebounds and 8 assists .

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READING ROCKETS vs BRISTOL ACADEMY FLYERS

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