Reading Rockets (13-10) will be looking to bounce back from last Sunday’s high scoring defeat at the hands of Hemel Storm (10-13) when they travel to the Midlands to take on Loughborough Riders (15-7) on Saturday evening (6pm tip-off) before returning home to host Team Newcastle (6-17) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex.
The Berkshire outfit succumbed to their tenth league defeat of the season losing 121-116 at Hemel Leisure Centre but take on two teams they have beaten in league play already this season. The Reading team beat the Riders 101-86 just before the Christmas break and defeated Sunday’s visitors 112-105 last month in Newcastle after overtime. Rockets did however lose to Loughborough in the National Trophy semi-final in January, suffering a 66-91 home defeat that day.
Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane is looking forward to next weekend’s double header as the regular season draws to a close but knows his team will face two tough encounters ahead of them. He said,
“Coming off a very high scoring loss and heading into next weeks double header we will travel to Loughborough on Saturday feeling if we can lock into to what we plan to deliver defensively then we feel we can beat any team in this league. However it is not that simple. Loughborough who we split two games with already will be a handful to defend as they have threats in multiple positions. Sunday we welcome Newcastle to the Rivermead who are coming off a recent impressive win against Essex. The away fixture took us to overtime to get over the line against them. We are very aware of both teams strengths and weaknesses, it is a matter of us needing to execute the game plan to it’s full extent.”
Rockets go into this weekend’s final double header of the 2018-2019 season with a fully fit roster but are likely to be without the services of Captain Danny Carter for one of this weekend’s games. With the 30 year old retiring at the end of the season and managing an on going back complaint, the 6’9 forward is unable to play back to back games so Coach Keane will manage this accordingly and Carter will be a game time decision on Saturday evening. With only three games remaining, it is feasible the Berkshire outfit could finish anywhere between third and tenth in the NBL Division One table so wins this weekend will guarantee a play-off spot and boost Reading’s league position which is currently sixth.
In the highest scoring yet competitive game that Rockets has ever been involved with, despite a most valiant effort to take two league victories over Hemel, Rockets came up a little short in a cliff hanger In Hemel on Sunday evening.
Despite Storm stroking a treble from their outstanding guard TrayVonn Wright, with their second possession after A J Carr had blocked the first one, captain Danny Carter scored with a hook, Sydney Donaldson scored and made another block disrupting the smooth shooting of Storm’s guards. Rockets enjoyed a 15 point lead at 27-12 before the Storm raged to get back into contention as the first period ended 29-22 to Rockets. Carr had stroked 3 trebles and teenager David Chive a brace.
A treble from Adrian O’Sullivan and a pair of free throws from Carter enabled Rockets to keep a double digit lead before Strom had 6 unanswered points. A Carr treble and a 3 point play from Donaldson saw Rockets 40-30 ahead early in the second quarter before a barrage of Hemel trebles brought the scores level on 48 each in an excellent game for the sport and for both sets of supporters though one official was maybe a little zealous as he handed Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo his second unsportsmanlike foul so he had to leave the arena. This was a major blow for Rockets as 19 yo Emeka-Anyakwo had his best Rockets game just 6 days before. This seemed to disrupt Rockets concentration as they made a number of turn-overs giving Storm the advantage at the interval 56-53. Storm had scored 13 points from turnovers compared to Rockets nil….surely a subject for the changing room for Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane.
Hemel scored first after the break but Rockets six senior players soon brought the scores level on 58 and 60. However some clinical shooting from Storm edged them ahead again despite Trae Pemberton now being less shackled than he had been in the first half, making meaningful scores, assists and rebounds. Tanner Kuehn hit a treble to cut Rockets deficit to 72-78 before Storm lost a player too, Will Ashby with a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls whilst they held a 9 point lead. O’Sullivan was secure from the line, Carr spun to score and Pemberton scored with a floater to get within 3 points of Storm before they made the last score to stay 85-80 ahead at the end of the third period.
Carr made a slam in between a brace of ‘and 1’s’ for Storm who found themselves 92-82 up within 90 seconds of the re-start. This final quarter saw 8 trebles drained by the teams together with 3 other 3 point plays as the final shootout was raising the roof on the Hemel Leisure Centre . Despite being 13 points adrift with 2 mins 26 remaining, Rockets powered up again, as O’Sullivan and Pemberton stroked trebles to see Rockets at 111-115 with a 8-0 run with 24.8 secs left. Rockets were needing to foul to regain possession but Storm were absolute from the free throw line with 31 from 36 compared to Rockets just 11 from 15.
Pemberton hit 3 from 3 from the penalty stripe as Rockets went within 3 points with 17 secs on the clock. Again Storm hit both free throws but O’sullivan scored to keep the contest very much alive with 8.1 secs to go and Rockets within a score of tying the game. Storm kept their nerves and hit the final 2 free throws to get the win at 121-116.
This was very much a team performance with each player making major contributions though the top scorers were Trae Pemberton and Adrian O’Sullivan with 21 pts., apiece , A J Carr with 20 pts., with Danny Carter and Sydney Donaldson having 17 pts., each though Donaldson was also attributed with a double double having taken down 10 rebounds too. 17 yo David Chive again scored double figures with 11 pts and Tanner Kuehn hitting 9 pts.
|17/03/2019||17:00||NBL Div 1||2018 / 2019|
|Heath Ln, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP1, UK|
Reading Rockets (13-9) will be hoping to keep their top four hopes alive this weekend when they make the short journey to Hertfordshire to take on Hemel Storm (9-12) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off at Sportspace. The Reading outfit split last weekend’s games as the form book was thrown out of the window as they lost to relegation threatened Barking Abbey Crusaders 95-84 in Kent before returning home to defeat top four contenders Thames Valley Cavaliers 70-67.
Sunday’s meeting will be the third of the season between the two teams with Rockets currently leading the series 2-0. The Berkshire outfit picked up National Trophy success back in October with a 117-95 victory before repeating the feat in league play, winning 97-80 the following month. This will be the first game between the two sides in Hemel this weekend which hasn’t been a happy stomping ground for the Rockets in recent years having not been victorious there since October 2016.
In speaking ahead of Sunday’s match-up with the Storm, Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane was pleased his team managed to pick up one valuable win last weekend after a tough couple of weeks but knows the upcoming test will be a tough one for the group. He said,
“Coming off a very tough stretch schedule wise which had an impact on injuries and fatigue, it will feel refreshing to have only one game next weekend. Hemel have really rejuvenated themselves with new signings and a positive run of form this side of Christmas. Having played and beaten them twice this season we are very familiar with the threat they bring across multiple positions. We will approach the game like any other, fully prepared and ready to go with a full roster.”
Rockets go into Sunday’s game with the news Captain Danny Carter should be able to return to fold after sitting out of last Sunday’s win over Thames Valley. The 30 year old forward continues to nurse his back complaint in his final competitive season but is most likely to return to action against Hemel Storm. A hip injury stunted American Trae Pemberton’s weekend last time out but should be fit in time for the trip to Hertfordshire. Coach Keane may well have a full squad to select from as the Rockets look to push on for a top four finish with five regular season games remaining.
|Thames Valley Cavaliers||67||Loss|
With Rivermead unavailable Rockets played this game at their training and academy venue, The John Madejski Academy. Two of the young Academy students played major roles in this vital win that sees Rockets up to 5th place in the league, as 16 yo David Chive made a steal with just 4.6 secs remaining and then hit both free throws in an ice cool manner to see Rockets secure the game. Arinze Emeka Anyakwo had his best game at this level by far as he knew before tip that captain Danny Carter was side-lined with his ongoing back strain so put in the performance of his Senior season as he top scored with 22 points and was a major trouble to Cavaliers from tip to buzzer.
With both teams playing the night before and not getting back till the early hours of Sunday, both Head Coaches would have been conscious of tiredness and concentration maybe creeping in as the game progressed but neither had any such worries as the game was extremely tight from tip to the last play which quarter differences of just 1, 2, 1 and 3 show. The opening 10 points were shared as Emeka Anyakwo hit 5 of them before A J Carr stroked a big treble and added 6 personal points but having had a 17-9 lead Rockets had a 13-4 reversal to be adrift 21-22 at the end of the quarter.
Period 2 began with the lead being swapped by virtually each offense. Sydney Donaldson and Trae Pemberton stroked trebles as the game hotted up and Tanner Kuehn was secure from the penalty stripe. A Cavaliers tip in with the last play saw Rockets ahead but just by 40-38.
Some strong defence helped Rockets to extend their advantage at the start of the third period whilst Pemberton and Chive were on the money beyond the arc. Within 4 minutes of the re-start Rockets enjoyed their best lead of double figures at 50-40 but Cavaliers hit back with a 15-5 run to draw level on 55 apiece before Donaldson hit a free throw to see Rockets go into the final stanza with a single point lead of 56-55.
Cavaliers took the early lead before Donaldson struck a treble but the game was soon tied on 59. A Cavaliers treble, one of just 2 successful ones during the whole game for them, edged them ahead and with 2 minutes 20 sec to go Rockets were 3 down. An assist from Carr to Emeka-Anyakwo saw him draw Rockets level on 66 with a key treble. Carr scored inside with 1.06 left but Cavaliers had possession. Rockets stopped them scoring and then and having had a shot rim out, Rockets needed another stop. And how they did it as 16 yo Chive made a steal and held on to the ball as he was fouled. With huge confidence the youngster hit both free throws to give Rockets a virtually unassailable 4 point advantage with just 1.9 secs on the clock. Cavaliers hit a single point but the sweet victory belonged to Rockets 70-67 and a rise of 2 places up the league table to 5th with just 4 games remaining, the final 2 being at Rivermead on 24th and 31st March.
Top scorers for Rockets were Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo with 22 pts and 6 rebounds ably assisted by A J Carr with 16 pts and 7 rebounds coupled to 4 assists and 3 steals. Trae Pemberton had recovered enough to score 15 pts, take down 7 rebounds and make 3 assists with Sydney Donaldson nearly having a double double with 8 pts and 10 rebounds.
Basketball Hotline 0118 926 3040
|10/03/2019||18:00||NBL Div 1||2018 / 2019|
|John Madejski Academy|
|112-118 Hartland Rd, Reading, Reading RG2, UK|
|Barking Abbey Crusaders||95||Win|
Head Coach Alan Keane travelled to Kent in the knowledge that all his squad were fit for the first time since early season and ready for the March madness of league games as Rockets vie for a play-off spot. However an early injury to American shooting guard , Trae Pemberton scuppered Keane’s plans and put extra pressure against the very fast and furious Barking team. Keane was pleased to see Sam Grant shirted up again and gave him plenty of court time as he re-introduced the 16 yo to Senior basketball.
The long journey to Canterbury, most in darkness, was not helped when the tip was delayed until 8.50 pm, yes 8.50 pm. The opening two minutes saw nobody troubling the scoreboard but then Barking stroked the first of their trebles before teenager David Chive saw Rockets first points go on the board. Captain Danny Carter was playing well at both ends leading by example whilst A J Carr caused trouble for Barking with his inside presence which he coupled to hitting his first treble. Sydney Donaldson took an assist off Chive to give Rockets a four point advantage but a 6-0 Barking finish edged them ahead 20-18 at the first break.
Adrian O’Sullivan drove to score but went over on his ankle and Rockets supporters and bench looked as he limped away, knowing he’s just come back from a month out of the team. What a relief when after a couple of minutes he was running quite freely . Carter was again dominant inside, influential on the boards and made a big rejection to stop Barking. The game was again tied on 30 points each but a brace of trebles and secure from the free throw line saw Barking head to the locker room with an extended advantage of 44-38.
A ten point personal haul by O’Sullivan including a pair of trebles kept Barking honest and Rockets in the game whilst Carter drove and scored with a reverse lay-up, hit a down town treble and gave an assist to Grant to score his first points after the 4 week lay-off. A buzzer beating treble from Donaldsonwas one of the highlights of some excellent Rockets team play as with four minutes of the third period remaining Rockets trailed by a single point at 58-59with a 14-5 run having been eleven behind at 43-54. A 10-4 Barking run at the end of the quarter aided by four from the line and a three point final play saw Rockets adrift 62-69 as the final quarter beckoned.
Either side of the end of the last period and beginning of this one, Rockets couldn’t buy a bucket as the ball just wouldn’t drop and after a 7-0 Barking run Rockets found themselves fourteen points down at 62-76. Despite Donaldson being called for his fifth and excluding foul, Rockets fought with four trebles from O’Sullivan, Carter and a brace from Carr but their efforts ended in vain as Barling took the win 95-84.
Tops corers for Rockets were A J Carr with 24 points, Danny Carter with 19 pts and Adrian O’Sullivan with 17 pts.
Basketball Hotline 0118 926 3040
|09/03/2019||20:30||NBL Div 1||2018 / 2019|