Category: Ladies Team

Rockets V NTU | Game Preview

Reading Rockets V Nottingham Trent

Saturday 6th March 2021

1:00pm Tip-off

National Basketball League Division 1

Rockets (3-4) will be looking to continue our run of form following our terrific performance in our 91-73 win over the Worcester Wolves in this week’s game against Nottingham Trent University (NTU). The game will be livestreamed on YouTube.

Rockets have been working really hard in the training and it showed last week in the match. The whole team have improved dramatically. What has been really impressive from the Rockets is the contributions off the bench from all members of the team. In the last three games, the bench has provided 30.7 points per game, after fantastic displays from academy stars Eva Luzon, Saioa San Francisco, as well as captain Candela Hermida providing the Rockets a lot of firepower off the bench to be deployed at key moments in games.

Also, off the bench are the two sharpshooters Mia and Daisy Thompson. Combined they are averaging an amazing 38.5% from behind the 3-point line and have led the Rockets to 35.3% from 3-point range in the last 3 games.

On the defensive end, the Rockets are one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. They league the lead in steals (14.7 SPG) this season, and will be looking to swarm the NTU women, applying lots of pressure to force turnovers.

NTU (3-6) have been struggling to find wins. are currently on a 5-game losing streak, but they will be certainly looking to turn this around. It is also only their second game in 2021 and so will be looking to get the rest of the season back on track.

NTU’s last win was actually against the Rockets in the tight 71-66 reverse fixture. It was a fantastic performance from Mady Burdett who finished the game 20 points shooting an extraordinary 66% from the field and from behind the 3-point line, as well as attaining 3 assists and 3 rebounds.

Despite their poor run of form, Coach Luque is cautious of this NTU side. “NTU is a team with a great balance inside and outside. They move the ball very well and quickly, finding a lot of advantages taking free shots or playing the ball inside. In addition, they have some players and players with experience, and that’s always is dangerous.

He is also stated that the emphasis will be on defending well and taking the opportunities that great defence brings:

“Like last game, we are going to be focusing on our game and philosophy, we know where we can have an advantage. For us the most important aspect of the game is defence, and we are going to keep pushing ourselves on the defensive court. On offence the team is going step by step and the girls are getting our ideas really well. After our performance last week, the girls are excited and can’t wait to play again.”.

Coach Haynes has been highly impressed with the team’s attitude to training in recent weeks. “After such a great 2 weeks of practice that lead to a strong performance against Worcester, our focus this week has been to keep the wheels rolling and maintain our momentum. We have continued to emphasise our principles and prioritise the technical development and tactical awareness of each individual.” He also expressed admiration for this week’s opponent’s fighting spirit, “Nottingham Trent University is a competitive side that can compete with anyone in the league. We are looking forward to seeing our girls take on the challenge and produce another strong team performance.

Rockets V Wolves | Match Report

Rockets 91 | S. Espinosa – 25 PTS, 11 STL, 8 REB, 6 AST | E. Luzon – 12 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 2 BLK, 2 STL

Wolves 73 | C. Marques – 29 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 4 STL

It was a fantastic performance from the Reading Rockets Women this past weekend after their 91-73 victory over the Worcester Wolves. It was a tremendous defensive display seeing the Rockets grab 22 steals on their way to their 18-point win at the John Madejski Academy.

The game started at terrific pace. Both teams applied enormous amount of pressure on each other all the way up the court. After 6-0 run to start the game for the Rockets, the Wolves came back with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the game 6-6. It was then back and forth the whole quarter with both teams exchanging baskets, not letting each other forge a lead, ending 20-21 in favour of the Worcester Wolves.

The second quarter started the same way the first finished, both teams going at each other determined not to let the other develop a lead. Halfway through the quarter, the Rockets defensive pressure was relentless allowing them to accumulate many steals and turn them into easy baskets which led to a 7-point advantage in the Rockets favour going into the second half with the score 47-40.

The Rockets continued their impressive run into the second half with academy-star Sitota Espinosa starting the half with a tremendous 3-point shot. The Rockets swarming defence caused the Worcester Wolves to turn the ball over more than they would have hoped. The Rockets capitalised on this and went on a huge scoring-run to finish the quarter 69-51, a healthy 18-point margin going into the 4th and final quarter.

The 4th quarter was as exciting as the previous 3 with both teams continuing to press the ball all the way up the court. Both teams showcasing just how good British women’s basketball is with incredible defensive and offensive sets, demonstrating the terrific talent we have in the UK. The final quarter ended in a draw, but Rockets came away victorious, going home with a 91-73 win, their 3rd win of the season.

Coach Luque was extremely happy with the performance and attitude during the game. “The girls were able to press during almost the whole game which is something we spoke about in training the whole week. In offence we were moving the ball as we wanted to. The ball moved quickly and with purpose which improve our spacing on the court.” He continued to say “I’m so proud of all the hard work the girls have put in and I guess we could see a completely different team in 2021. I am delighted to be working with them and looking forward to see how they are improving every single week.”

Assistant coach, Charlie Haynes, was also full of praise for how the women played:

“With the majority of our squad made up of sixth-form student-athletes from the John Madejski Academy, our performance against Worcester Wolves is a great example of just how much potential we have within our team.

The girls had been awesome in training for the two weeks leading up to the game, which meant we were fully prepared to compete at our best.

I don’t think Worcester were expecting us to play with the level of intensity that we did. We played with aggression and executed our game plan really well, leading to plenty of deflections, steals and points in transition.”

It was truly an impressive performance from our academy members with all 3 of the individual awards accolades going to academy players. Sitota Espinosa picked up the Elephant & Castle Player of the Game after she filled the scoresheet, posting 25 points, 11 steals (a season-high), 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Fellow-Spaniard, Eva Luzon also had a terrific game off-the-bench, picking up 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks on her way to becoming the Elephant & Castle Impact Player of the Game. Finally, sharpshooting Mia Thompson was locked in from 3-point range shooting at an unbelievable 60%, finishing up with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals to earn her the Reading Nando’s Red-Hot Rocket award.

It was an overall amazing performance from the women and a very exciting game to watch. They will certainly want to keep this good run of form going into their next game against Nottingham Trent University this Saturday at 1:00pm.

(Photos provided by Dan Wild)

Rockets V Wolves | Game Preview

Reading Rockets V Worcester Wolves

1:00pm Tip

Saturday 27th February 2021

Women’s National Basketball League

Rockets (2-4) host the Worcester Wolves (5-3) at the John Madejski Academy this Saturday for their clash in the National Basketball League. The game tips off at 1:00pm and will be livestreamed on the Basketball England YouTube channel.

The Rockets are looking to bounce back after their loss to the league leaders Ipswich last time out. The team have been working really hard in training and developing their individual skills as well as perfecting the team’s playbook. The Rockets will be relying on their highly effective on ball defence again this week. They currently averaging 13.5 steals a game, which is 2nd best in the league.

Head coach, Joan Portero Luque, is looking forward to this week’s game against a very good opponent in the Worcester Wolves:

“We have another hard game against Worcester, and we are ambitious, we want to win this game to have our first victory in 2021. The last week, the girls have been working very hard and pushing themselves during the training sessions, and we are proud of the progress they are making.”

“I am expecting a very tough game defensively from both sides. both teams like to press the ball aggressively. We have to be careful on the defensive end and patient on the offensive end to keep the ball safe. We can’t wait to have Worcester in front of us and it’s going to be a good measure to see where we are at right now.”

Worcester also lost in their first game in 2021, falling to a 55-52 defeat to the Thames Valley Cavaliers. They sit 3rd in the WNBL this season and looking to stay in striking distance of the top 2. Worcester is a powerhouse for basketball in the UK which has improved dramatically their women’s programme, so they will be a tough test for our women to overcome.

Rocket’s assistant coach Charlie Haynes spent 3 years at Worcester University studying sports coaching science before joining the Rockets coaching staff at the start of the season. He gave his thoughts about the upcoming game:

“The Worcester Wolves Women have always been a team full of belief, with a roster that offers different challenges for their opposition. We have made sure to prepare well for a team that we most certainly do not underestimate. I feel confident that our girls are ready for this fixture. I am looking forward to competing against old friends and I have no doubt it will be a great contest.”

You can watch the game via the Rockets YouTube channel where you will be joined by Matt Johnson and Todd Lindley on commentary. You can also follow the game on FIBA LiveStats.

Ipswich V Rockets: Match Report

Ipswich 88 | Welham 31 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST | Cazey 25 PTS, 5-9 3P 

Rockets 60 | Espinosa 9 PTS, 4 REB, 4 STL | Luzon 9 PTS, 6 REB

Reading Rockets were defeated 88-60 to a very strong Ipswich team, in our first game since December 2020.

The game started with the Rockets finding some options in behind the Ipswich defence early on, but Ipswich soon found their rhythm and started to run the floor really quickly, leading to many fast-break points. The league’s top scorer, Harriet Welham, was dialled in posting 19 of her 31 points in the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the Coach Luque’s Rockets set up to stop Ipswich scoring in on the fastbreak. The team stopped crashing the offensive board and focused on getting back in transition which kept the Ipswich offence at bay for the second quarter. On the offensive end, Rockets changed to having two players inside the paint to break up the zone defence of our opponents, which led to many open shots for the Rockets to take advantage of, resulting in Reading winning the 2nd quarter 21-18.

It was also very sad to see Coco Ka Yin Leung have to leave the floor after suffering on a knee injury. From everyone at Rockets, we wish Coco a speedy recovery and returns to the basketball court soon.

Rockets failed to start the second half as they finished the first. Ipswich rediscovered their pace in their offence and were fantastic at running up the floor, finding the open woman for the corner 3 to extend their lead.

Given it was the first game in 2021 for both teams, the 4th quarter was played at slightly lower tempo their the previous 3, with both teams just exchanging baskets until the final buzzer.

Despite the loss, Coach Luque was full of positive comments following final buzzer:

“It was a weird but amazing experience being back out on the court for everyone, and I am really happy to be back competing with my team. Ipswich are a very good team and they spent very little time settling into their rhythm and were near impossible to stop once they were in motion. But we are happy, we trust ourselves and growing as a team. We work really hard in training, and we are focused on helping each player on our team to improve.”

It was also great to see our academy star, Heather Maxwell, back on the court following her ACL injury suffered at Ipswich last season. It is fantastic to see Heather back on the court after such a long time out. Congratulations Heather!

Next week, Rockets travel to Southampton to face Team Solent Kestrels. Rockets defeated the Kestrels 64-57 in their meeting earlier in the season at the JMA.

Ipswich V Rockets: Game Preview

Ipswich VS Rockets: Game Preview

The Reading Rockets return to action in the WNBL this weekend facing reigning champions Ipswich Basketball. The game will take place this Saturday (13th February) at 14:00 and it will be livestreamed on Ipswich’s Facebook page.

This will be the Rockets first game in the new year, with their last game being in early December 2020 where they defeated Thames Valley Cavaliers 65-55. The Rockets currently hold a 2-3 record, leaving them 7th in the WNBL.

Coach Luque is cautious of the fact his team hasn’t played in 3 months. He said, “We are coming off a really long break off, so I am hoping that all our players get through the game safely and execute our game-plan.” When asked about on his focus about the game, he stated “If the girls execute what we have been working on throughout training this season – individually and as a team – I will be happy. Ipswich are a fantastic team with many highly talented players, so they will be tough to beat, however if the girls work hard and execute what we have worked on I will be happy”.

Ipswich currently sit 2nd in the WNBL after achieving a 6-1 record over their first 7 games. They have the best points differential this season with +83, highlighting Ipswich’s ability at both ends of the court.

Ones to watch:

Sitota Espinosa in action [image by Luke Simcock]
The Rockets Spanish-youngster Sitota Gines Espinosa will be looking to start 2021 as she finished 2020. She is currently leading the league in steals with 5.0 STPG, as well as obtaining 15.8 PPG, shooting 45.5% from 3-point range, and collecting 6.4 RPG.

One of Ipswich’s key players this season has been the 6’2 Gonzaga Bulldogs-commit Esther Little. Esther leads the league in efficiency (208.0 EFF), rebounds (16.4 RPG) and blocks (3.4 BPG) this season, as well as scoring 14.7 PPG. Her defensive prowess is one of the best in the league and it will certainly be tough for the Rockets to overcome.

At the offensive end of the court, Ipswich also have the league’s top scorer, Harriet Welham, at their disposal. Last year’s MVP, is having another terrific season averaging 25.9 PPG, shooting an impressive 48.9% from the field, as well as grabbing 9.3 RPG and providing 5.6 APG. Her efforts have led her to having an efficiency of 173.0, 3rd best in the league.

(images provided by Luke Simcock)