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 .




Reading Rockets vs Lancashire Spinners

It took a little while for Rockets to shake of the 4 weeks lack of competitive games and to fire up all the after burners but then they exploded from being level on 36 points mid-way through the second quarter to a 71 -31 finishing run that took the stuffing out of the visitors though they never gave up, to secure the first of the double header start to 2018.

Lancashire Spinners hit four trebles in the first quarter with Joel Keeble and Scotty Hendricks responding likewise from beyond the arc. Stout Rockets defence caused Spinners to have a 24 sec violation and Declan Soukup stole the ball on two occasions leading to Rockets scores whilst Sydney Donaldson brought his fast and competitive brand of basketball to Rivermead after nearly 4 weeks in the States. Rockets edged this period 23-21.

Again Spinners launched trebles to stay   close as Rockets couldn’t get away but Soukup shone through and scored eleven personal points as Donaldson weighed in with seven but with Hendricks called for his third personal foul, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces had to change the line up and rest Hendricks till well into the third quarter. Soukup brought the bleacher supporters to their feet with a double step fake finish and a glorious top of the key treble. This really got the Rockets fired and off into the distance they went. From being tied on 36 each mid-way through this quarter, they blitzed the remainder of the game with a 40 point difference, rarely seen at this level of basketball.

The double digit  48-38 half time advantage grew to 77-54 in the third as Jonny Foulds took his customary brave charge and Tim Gill rose to hit a Rockets career high of 25 points and 10 rebounds just in the third and fourth quarters. Academy player Adrian Nosa came off the bench to make excellent contributions and to score four points, much to the delight of the appreciative crowd. Hendricks and Donaldson rained in trebles, Gill made a  big block and a buzzer beating finish took Rockets to a 23 point lead as the final period beckoned.

Hendricks added a brace of trebles early in the quarter and again the Aussie based  Soukup scored when it appeared impossible. Keeble stroked  another treble for Rockets and Foulds gave a super assist to Gill to finish yet again. With such an advantage Pena Garces released his y diminutive Academy point guard  Inigo Perez in the last couple of minutes and the young 17 yo Spaniard scored with a lay-up and then hit a buzzer beating treble to cap a fine cameo short performance. Gill naturally hit Rockets last score as they took the win 107 – 67 and keep up the pressure on the other 4 teams at the top of the league table as they go into the crucial remainder of the season in search of silverware.

Top scorers for Rockets were Tim Gill with 34 pts and 16 rebounds, Declan Soukup with 17 pts., 5 steals and 4 rebounds, Scotty Hendricks with 16 pts., and 5 assists and 5 steals and Sydney Donaldson with 15 pts., and 4 rebounds.


Reading Rockets vs Leicester Warriors

In a physically demanding encounter against East Midlands opposition Rockets prevailed with a tight end game to secure the win and stay just 2 points behind the league leaders Loughborough Riders.

Tim Gill galloped out of the stalls to score all Rockets first ten points as they lead 10-5, the same margin with which Rockets secured the victory. The game was not for the faint hearted as Warriors were true to their name, fighting for everything with much skill to punish any slackness by Rockets. The pattern was set and as much as Rockets tried to draw away on numerous occasions, even enjoying a twelve point advantage at one point, back came Leicester, often to tie the game as just before the interval and at 64 and 67 in the dying minutes but Rockets dug deep and eked out the crucial win in their last home game before the Christmas break.

At 17 -12 with the first offence of the second quarter Warriors went on a 8-0 run to take the lead for the first time at 20-17 and then 22-19 though it was only momentary as the game became somewhat ugly as the foul count mounted and technical fouls were dished out to both teams. A Declan Soukup big treble was immediately matched by a Warriors one as Rockets battled to come back from a 26-32 deficit. A clever spin move by Soukup was followed by a Gill floater before Soukup hit four quick points and Scotty Hendricks sunk a downtown treble to take the teams to the changing rooms level on 34 points each.

A 25-15 third period saw Rockets enjoy a double digit lead as Jonny Foulds imposed himself with a pair of free throws, a might treble from the top of the key to couple with some great defence to stop a certain Warriors score. With Sbai hitting his second treble and Sydney Donaldson scoring and adding the penalty shot Rockets retained a ten point lead going into the final quarter at 59-49.

However the fourth quarter jitters arrived again as despite Sbai hitting a treble, Warriors stroked a brace of their own to draw level on 64 points with just over four minutes remaining. Foulds hits a magnificent treble but Warriors replied with one of their own immediately to tie the game on 67 with one minute 43 seconds left on the clock. Now both Head Coaches had to be at their tactical best with thoughtful use of the time-outs as Rockets were in foul trouble but Warriors had four to give before they were in the penalty. Rockets played very cleverly using the time well and scoring at critical times, like the Soukup treble to ease the pressure. But still the Warriors fought, scoring two from the free throw line and with a technical foul called on Warriors coach with less than 23 second remaining, Soukup was secure from the line moments before Ed Potter hit Rockets last points as Rockets took the spoils in a hard fought game with the result 75 -70 in Rockets favour.

Top scorers for Rockets were Declan Soukup with 19 pts., 6 rebounds and 3 assists; Jonny Foulds with 13 pts., and 7 rebounds and Tim Gill with 13 pts., and 14 rebounds though Ali Sbai hit 12 pts., and took down 7 rebounds and Sydney Donaldson hit 11 pts., took down 6 rebounds and made 5 assists in a very complete performance.

Rockets now travel to Bradford next weekend in their last game before the Christmas break seeking to sty close to the league leaders before they return to Rivermead for a New Year double header home start to 2018.