Reading Rockets 98 | L. Francis 22 PTS, 15 REB, 2 AST | O. Williams 24 PTS, 4 AST, 2 REB
Leicester Warriors 104 | C. Pearson 17 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST
In a most competitive game where it was nip and tuck throughout, it was a contentious referee’s call in the last minute when Rockets were ahead by the slightest of margins, a single point, one of the referees called a foul and Warriors went to the line to hit 4 from 4 from the penalty stripe including a Coach Technical as Head Coach Alan Keane fought for justice and a review giving Warriors a 101 v 98 edge. Rockets had to foul to try and regain possession quickly but Warriors were again secure from the free throw line to take the win.
Warriors had a slow start to their season with a 0-7 run but then they signed 7’0” Morakinyo Williams so coupled to 6’11” Henri Langton, their front court has taken on a new and BIG threat improving their stats to 3-7 with this win. Warriors won the tip and opened the scoring before Rockets’ power forward Leome Francis went inside to score before adding a pair from the free throw line. When Sam Toluwase drove and finished well, the game was tied on 6 apiece. A Warriors treble was matched with a Reis Pinnock treble and the lead swapped with virtually every possession before recent Rockets signing Jaz Bains was introduced to the court and helped himself to 5 quick points including a trademark treble, the first of 5 Bains hit throughout the game, seeing Rockets with a double digit lead at 32 – 21 as Francis slammed home the advantage. A Lattrell Maitland dish to Bains to stroke another treble was the highlight of the first quarter as the academy player again impressed and saw Rockets 35-27 in the lead.
Though Rockets started the second period with possession it was Warriors who scored first before a top of the key treble from O’Showen Williams and a Kivuvu Live spin and finish increased their advantage to 40-31 before a 9-0 Warriors run saw the game tied on 40 apiece. A Warriors buzzer beater was equalled as Bains drained another treble but with Rockets in team foul trouble Warriors capitalised and took a 54-49 advantage into the third quarter.
A pair of Warrior trebles against hard work inside from Francis saw Rockets 8 points behind early on. Rockets picked up the pace again and Toluwase spun and scored as Williams drove and finished well and when Bains hit back to back trebles Rockets were just 65-69 down with 3 minutes of quarter to go. Ben Dixon drove to score and add the bonus free throw before scoring with a floater though again Warriors hit vital penalty throws to stay ahead by 75-72 as the final period beckoned.
Williams scored off Rockets’ first possession to make it a single point game which was soon tied on 76, 87 , 93 and 96 with 1 minute 47 seconds remaining. This was a hard fought duel showing just how competitive the top division of English basketball is and has been for 2 seasons but who would take the victory? A Francis offensive rebound and score edged Rockets ahead at 98-97 before the tough call which shouldn’t have determined the fine game but it did and Rockets now see the top 2 teams of this season in a double header weekend next Saturday and Sunday.
Top scorers for the Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 24 pts and 4 assists as Leome Francis finished with a double double of 22 pts and 15 rebounds and on his home debut, Jaz Bains again made a valuable contribution of 20 pts.