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.