Though very early in the season Rockets are now just one of four teams who’ve lost just one game in what is turning out to be the most competitive of leagues as it appears at least 6 or 7 teams could end up with the championship title in their hands. This game began as such an affair as after a very tight opening half where just 4 points separated the teams, but it was a 53 – 36 second half that secured a sound victory for Rockets.
Scotty Hendricks got Rockets off to a sizzling start with a down town treble whilst Tim Gill again dominated the boards. Dragons have much talent and experience in their team and a 7-0 run for them startled Rockets and reminded Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces that he had a game on his hands. Rockets Aussie guard Declan Soukup stopped a certain Dragons score by courageously standing firm and taking a charge. A Jonny Foulds finger roll kept Rockets ahead before the 5’10” Hendricks rose high to make a block before making a steal and finishing. When Soukup did likewise moments later and Hendricks hit another treble Rockets were looking to go to the first break with a double digit lead but an outrageous shot on the buzzer from inside his own half by Fetske saw Dragons cut the deficit to 7 points as Rockets led 25-18.
Dragons breathed fire in the second quarter as they hit a brace of trebles and had another 7-0 run. Ed Potter sent an exquisite bounce pass to Gill to layup and Foulds took a charge as Rockets defensive was much improved from last week’s reverse in Manchester. Foulds and Gill finished most of Rockets fine team work in this period which Dragons took 20-17 leaving Rockets ahead at the interval by just 42-38.
The third quarter proved decisive as Rockets took it 23-13 with Joel Keeble finding his length with a treble matched by Hendricks and Sydney Donaldson who was everywhere on court showing determination and leadership. A 14-2 Rockets run caused Dragons Head Coach Chris Mellor to call a time out as Donaldson and Soukup took charges, Foulds hustled on the floor for possession and Gill showed more skill with a fine spin move to add to his personal tally. Rockets ended the period ahead by 65-51.
The final quarter began with an audacious length of the court pass from Soukup to Ali Sbai who finished with a slam dunk before hitting a pair of trebles moments later. Rockets had raced into a 21 point lead with some superb team play at both ends of the court. Donaldson was drawing fouls as he battled determinedly to score, defend and send assists to Sbai and Hendricks. One magnificent team play midway through this final period epitomised Rockets quality on the day as they passed the ball around the key, waiting for the opportunity as players moved to find space for themselves or their team mate and right on the buzzer the telling assist not only for Gill to score but also draw the foul and make it a three point play. Rockets were much improved from the free throw line this week hitting 80% and pleased Pena Garces with keeping Dragons to just 74 points.
The winning margin was 95-74 with a much better team performance, as Sydney Donaldson with 22 pts., Tim Gill with 21 pts., and 12 rebounds and Scotty Hendricks with `15 pts. were Rockets top scorers. Now Rockets prepare for a double header weekend away to Derby in the league and Solent in the quarter final of the National Cup.