Category: Mens Team

Overtime to game to finish league season

Reading Rockets 105 v 112 Essex Rebels

In a game where Rockets started slowly and finding themselves 14 points in arrears, they recovered magnificently with a last minute gasp to win it in normal time, but went down on the first overtime game they’ve had all season.

The very experienced Sam Toluwase got Rockets scoring before Rebels hit the first of their trebles coupled to a pair of free throws before Reis Pinnock  drove to score and Kivuvu Live sent an assist to Toluwase. Rebels found themselves at the penalty stripe on too many occasions and were very successful from there adding to Rockets’ frustrations. A Toluwase coast to coast cut the deficit but Rockets made a couple of turnovers from which Rebels scored leaving Rockets a double digit distance behind behind at 12-22.  Ben Dixon took a charge and made  a pair of interceptions but Rockets failed to capitalise. Chuck Duru finished with a floater but Rockets had been defended too well to have even put up a treble effort until the last 2 minutes when they missed one but Jaz Bains stroked a buzzer beater to see Rockets at the first break 21-28 adrift.

Rebels scored off their first two offences to extend their lead before they hit another treble to lead 35-23. A Dixon tip in followed by an assist to Live to lay up and a Bains stop gave Rockets encouragement. O’Showen Williams came to the party in a big way with a long two and an audacious treble  seeing Rockets just 34-37 down midway through the second period. Rockets missed a treble effort and turned the ball over as Rebels went on a 6-0 run to open the gap again. Despite a Bains assist to Williams to hit a treble and Dixon drive and score drawing the foul and adding the bonus point Rebels still went on to have a 14 point lead at 48-34 as the interval approached where the score was 52-42 in Rebels favour. Rockets had only led for 6 seconds and needed Head Coach Alan Keane to guide his team.

And how well did they respond shooting out of the changing rooms with academy power forward Live spinning to score and then hitting a brace of free throws.  Pinnock took a key and big defensive rebound and Sam Grant benefitted with a slam dunk finish. After Dixon took another charge, he drained a treble and Rockets were within a single point of Rebels at 54-55. Rebels took a  time-out after the 12-3 Rockets run but still Rockets came, levelling the game on 57 and taking the lead moments later with a Pinnock finger roll. Then the scorers were busy as the game was levelled with almost every play on 59, 61, 63 and 65 before a tough call when Rockets were scoring was overturned by the officials and Rebels hit four quick points. Bains drained another treble but Rebels returned the compliment. Williams hit a treble and though Rockets won the quarter 30-27 they still found themselves 72-79 as the final period beckoned.

Williams lit up the arena with five trebles in the 29-22 quarter advantage for Rockets as Toluwase also imposed himself on the boards and inside.  Rockets trailed by one at 79-80 but Rebels had a short run to lead 93-85 before Rockets fired again with a 8-0 run to tie the game on 93 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Being in team foul trouble, Rockets were sending Rebels to the free throw line for the rest of the game but a Dixon pair of free throws saw Rockets edge ahead again on 95-94. Four Rebels points were stopped with a big Toluwase slam dunk to see the score 97-98. Rebels were first to the hundred mark and had a 2 point advantage with less than 14 seconds left. Toluwase was fouled and hit both free throws to tie the game on 101 but Rebels had possession with 6.3 seconds left. Rockets made a stop and the first overtime of this much disrupted season lay ahead.

Rebels scored off their first possession as did Rockets via Dixon who was having an outstanding game, and then Toluwase had a slam to give Rockets a 105-103 lead in this 5 minute overtime period. Rockets caused Rebels into a 24 second violation  but missed a treble shot. Rebels scored with their treble attempt and took the lead with just over a minute remaining. 3 from 3 from the penalty stripe saw Rebels take the win 112-105 but what an end to the league season before the Play-offs next weekend where Rockets will play Loughborough away.

Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 33 points including 8 trebles, a Rockets record. Ben Dixon hit 21 points, Sam Toluwase 18 and Sam Grant 12 .

Rockets outgunned by Riders

Loughborough Riders 75 v 68 Reading Rockets

Rockets lost out away in the Play-off Championship  as sharp shooting Riders capitalised from turn-overs and the free throw line, to end Rockets season earlier than they hoped. This was destined to be a tough game without the injury to Jaz Bains making him unavailable but Rockets hit the University court running as O’Showen Williams stroked an early treble , Sam Toluwase made a hook score and Leome Francis worked inside to finish. When Ben Dixon took a charge  and Reis Pinnock made a block, the two big power forwards Francis and Toluwase gave Rockets a 13 -6 early advantage causing Riders to take a time -out. This didn’t stop Rockets as Pinnock hit four quick points with a floater and drive before defending well to deflect a Riders pass out of play and stop them scoring. Developing young power forward Kivuvu Live joined the party as he scored from an offensive rebound giving Rockets a 19-10 first quarter lead.

Riders responded with 6 quick points against Chuck Duru’s score before Toluwase hit a mid-range shot. However Rockets were running up the personal fouls from which Riders benefitted with a three from three and then hit three more trebles to gain the initiative before the interval. Duru made another block  and Williams drove to score though it was obvious he wasn’t himself, the team only finding out afterwards of the tragic death of a friend back home in America. 35-38 was a true reflection at the interval of how competitive the game had been and was to remain till the final buzzer.

Nearly all Rockets best work was being done inside as both power forwards caused major concerns for Riders but unfortunately Riders guards were much more influential than Rockets guards though Francis got Rockets off to a great start to quarter three with a drive and a hook as Rockets took the lead again. For many minutes the lead swapped with every score but an 8-0 Riders run gave them the initiative and a 56-45 advantage. Duru stopped the rot and Dixon sent an assist to Francis to finish but being in team foul trouble saw Riders open up a 62-49 lead going into the final quarter.

Though winning that period by 19- 13 it wasn’t enough to see Rockets progress in the Play-off Championship despite the efforts of Francis,  Toluwase and Pinnock who worked tirelessly to try and reduce the deficit. Williams hit his second treble of the afternoon coupled to a Toluwase brace from the free throw line which saw Rockets just eight points behind within ninety seconds of the re-start but Riders traded baskets until Williams scored , drew the foul and made it a three point play as Toluwase again went inside to score causing Riders to take a time -out at 59-68 . Toluwase reduced the difference further and then sent an assist to Pinnock to see Rockets in with a chance of victory at just five points adrift at 63-68 with two minutes twenty to go. Riders score and a three point Rockets effort comes back off the ring  but Rockets cause Riders into a twenty four second violation before Toluwase hits a big treble leaving Rockets even closer at 66-70 with forty seconds remaining. Despite Sam Grant scoring , Riders went to the line as Rockets were in team foul trouble and saw the game out 75-68.

Yet another close encounter for Rockets and again Rockets were so competitive in most areas of rebounds, assists, blocks and steals but lost out from the penalty stripe by 7 to 17 points coupled to points from turnovers where Riders had 19-10 by Rockets. Top scorers for Rockets were Leome Francis with 19 points and 7 rebounds as Sam Toluwase hit a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Reis Pinnock returned to his old club with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

(Photos by Riders Media Team)

Rockets tame the Lions

Reading Rockets 76 v 72 Barking Abbey Lions

Following a 3 point defeat to Lions just 3 weeks ago, this was a significant 4 point win which will come handy in the head to head battle for the highest Play-off Championship which starts next weekend.

Head Coach Alan Keane gave a first five debut to 17 year old Academy player Kivuvu Live and he responded by taking down 9 rebounds though Lions scored first with a pair of free throws before Sam Toluwase stole the ball and slam dunked for Rockets. The opening quarter was very nip and tuck with Reis Pinnock floating a score before working inside for another score. Jaz Bains hit Rockets first treble to level the game on 15 and O’Showen Williams edged Rockets ahead 20-15 before Lions hit their first treble leaving Rockets with a slender lead at 20-18.

Lions drew level with their first possession of quarter two and then hit back to back trebles edging ahead and which they followed up with three more trebles in a sharp shooting display that disturbed Rockets balance. Rockets back bone of Williams and Toluwase took up the reins and encouraged the fight back with a Williams treble from the top of the key and Toluwase taking an offensive rebound to garner the Rockets troops. A Pinnock steal and finish brought the teams level again on 36 points each at the interval.

Bains hit an early treble for Rockets but again Lions responded to level on 39 before Live made a great block, Williams drove and converted before he sent a great assist to Live to lay up. Lions tied the game on 41 and 43 as both defences were more prominent than their offences. Williams went coast to coast and Live made another stop before a Williams high ball to Toluwase for an alley hoop brought the bench to its feet . When Dixon sent an assist to Bains to hit another treble Rockets enjoyed a 4 point lead at 51-47 . Lions levelled yet again on 51 and 53 before scoring the last three points of the third period to lead Rockets 56-53.

Was this going to be another game that Rockets lost by a single score? Not if they upped their game again and this they did from their first possession as Williams drove, got fouled and hit the bonus free throw to level the game on 56 . A Sam Grant tip dunk edged Rockets ahead and caused Lions to take an early time-out. However Rockets beefed up their defence causing Lions to fall foul of the 24 second clock before Williams drained a treble to ease Rockets further ahead. A Coach technical and Lions score was interrupted by a Grant score and midway through the final quarter Rockets had a slender 65-63 advantage. A Leome Francis spin and finish followed by a Toluwase steal and Grant treble gave Rockets a little breathing space at 70-63.  However Lions stormed back with a treble before Sam Grant scored to see Rockets 74-70 ahead with just 46 seconds on the clock. Lions hit a brace of free throws to get within two but Sam Grant also hit a pair from the line to give Rockets the victory.

O’Showen Williams top scored with 23 points and 4 assists with Sam Grant hitting 13 points, Sam Toluwase scoring 11 points and Jaz Bains with 9 points.

Thames Valley in cavalier mode

Thames Valley Cavaliers ( TVC ) 103 v 88 Reading Rockets

Having got within a shot of winning the last encounter between these 2 teams just a couple of weeks ago, Rockets knew Cavaliers wouldn’t want to allow it to be that close again as they chase the league title, and after early exchanges, an 18-0 Cavaliers run gave them control from which Rockets fought hard to recover but Cavaliers strength in depth kept them ahead till the buzzer.

Rockets’ two key scorers throughout the season, and vital players, O’Showen Williams and Sam Toluwase again led Rockets from tip to the end as they opened with most of the 21 points Rockets scored in the opening quarter with Williams hitting a brace of trebles and Toluwase also sinking a treble but doing most of his work inside. From level on 17 points apiece, TVC edged ahead 27-21 at the first break and Rockets knew they were in for a tough encounter. Chuck Duru got Rockets closer at the start of period two with a treble  which Williams and Toluwase copied to see the game at 32-34. Jaz Bains stood firm and took a charge to keep Rockets on fire but a couple of Cavaliers trebles hurt Rockets’ advances and saw the score 44-55 at the interval.

Another brace of Williams trebles complemented by one from Ben Dixon saw Rockets close at 57-60 after just 3 minutes of the third quarter but an 18-0 run by Cavaliers in a 31-16 period gave Cavaliers a commanding lead which they were determined not to surrender. Cavaliers had scored 51 points in the paint to this point compared to 20 from Rockets whilst Cavaliers guards also shot the lights out to take a 86-60 lead into the final quarter.

Though winning the last quarter 28- 17, Rockets acknowledged that Cavaliers are chasing the league title and knew this was a vital game so were fired up. Head Coach Alan Keane gave his academy players much time during this period and they played well with Ronnie Oguekwe spinning to score and then working inside to add another score besides taking down 4 rebounds in a purple patch for the 17 year old. Sam Grant returned to something like the kind of the form he was in a month or so ago with 6 points and 8 rebounds as Jaz Bains finished the quarter with three trebles, one from a great dish from Latrell Maitland, another academy player. With a buzzer beating treble Rockets had cut the deficit to 88-103 and now prepare for their final two league games this coming week securing as high a place for the Play-offs which start on the weekend of 24/25thApril.

Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 24 points and 6 rebounds with Sam Toluwase hitting 19 points and also taking down 6 rebounds. Ben Dixon scored 10 points with Jaz Bains on 9 points.

Storm V Rockets | Match Report

Hemel Storm 82 v 80 Reading Rockets

Having lost a titanic battle against joint league leaders Thames Valley Cavaliers on Tuesday evening, Rockets travelled to joint third side Hemel Storm on Saturday and came tantalisingly close to an upset as they led for over 38 of the 40 minutes but lost to a treble shot in the final minute. This was a tougher loss to take than Tuesday as Rockets lead from the first minute, lead at the midway stage of each quarter and at the end but not at the buzzer.

A fast moving Rockets were quick out of the blocks as Leome Francis did his work inside to open Rockets scoring off their first possession before O’Showen Williams showed his visionary skills as he dished a pass to Sam Toluwase to drain a treble. When Williams repeated the pass and Toluwase scored again  Rockets enjoyed a 7-0 opening run. Toluwase was most prominent as he received assists from Williams and Reis Pinnock to take his personal tally into double figures early in the period. Hemel stormed back but Toluwase finished with a slam before his power froward partner Leome Francis scored three points and Williams stroked a treble. However the ever dangerous sharp shooting Storm hit a buzzer beating treble to see Rockets still with a 26-20 first quarter advantage.

A Williams drive followed by taking a charge couped to a Chuck Duru off the glass finish saw Rockets with a double digit lead at 30-20. A Storm treble was immediately responded to by a Jaz Bains one but Storm hit three more as they stayed in touch, finishing the quarter with another treble to see the period tied on 16 points each and the score 42-36 to Rockets at the interval.

Francis and Pinnock got Rockets off to a great start in quarter three again giving them a ten point lead but Storm hit four more trebles as they fought back tying the game on 52 and 54 before briefly taking the lead momentarily on 57-56.   A Francis turn and score followed by a Duru block and a Williams drive in the final seconds of the third period saw Rockets still ahead but with a reduced lead of just one at 62-61.

A Ben Dixon dish to Bains quickly followed by a Williams assist to Kivuvu Live to score off the glass twice in quick succession saw Rockets enjoy an 8 point advantage. A Storm treble was equalled by Dixon one but another Storm treble and free throw saw them just a single point adrift at 72-71 midway through the last quarter. The game was tied on 75 before Francis kept Rockets noses ahead with an inside score. A Pinnock defensive rebound stopped a Storm score though a tough referee call disallowed a Pinnock score for travel but Rockets were still two up with 1.14 seconds left. Storm scored and drew the foul so added a bonus point to lead  78-77 but a Williams score saw Rockets ahead with 36.5 secs remaining. Storm called a time out and then, fortuitously hit a buzzer beating treble having lost possession as the 24 second clock was nearly out of time.   Rockets called a time out and Williams hit a free throw to go just a single point down but a Storm free throw saw the hosts take the win and leave Rockets thoroughly down after suffering two consecutive defeats to 2 of the top 3 teams in the league. Nonetheless the Play-off Championship start on 24th April.

Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 22 pts, 9 rebounds and 5 assists with both power forwards Sam Toluwase and Leome Francis sharing the spoils with 16 pts each though Francis had a double double as he also took down 12 rebounds.