Reading Rockets (9-3) will make the short trip to Hertfordshire this Saturday evening (7pm tip-off) to take on rivals Hemel Storm (9-3) in their final game of 2019. The Reading outfit had a fantastic double success last weekend beating NBL Division One rivals Worthing Thunder (9-3) by 100 points to 81 on the south coast before securing a National Cup semi-final spot after defeating Essex and Herts Leopards 98-82 in the quarter-final of the competition.
Rockets and Storm are currently two of four teams with a record of nine wins and three losses behind unbeaten league leaders Solent Kestrels (12-0) with Worthing Thunder and Thames Valley Cavaliers all trying to occupy the best of the rest spot in the NBL Division One league table. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season with last season’s match-ups split with the Rockets taking a 97-80 home win before being defeated by Hemel 121-116 back in March of this year at Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre.
Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane was very pleased with his team’s performances last weekend but knows a tough encounter awaits with the visit to Hemel on Saturday. The Irishman said,
“We were very happy with the two results from last weekend but our attention quickly shifts to this weekend’s game against Hemel. It is always a difficult environment to play in and they have a new team this year who are playing very well so it will be a tough challenge but we are coming off a good weekend ourselves so have confidence going into Saturday.”
“We feel we will have advantages in certain areas but we are also very aware of their strengths so we will put a hyper focus on playing to what we do well whilst being mindful and prepared to limit their successful options.”
“It’s an exciting way to end 2019 and we will most certainly be looking to finish the first half of the season on a high as will Hemel so this is what will make it a great match-up I have no doubt.”
Rockets go into this weekend’s match-up with better news on the injury and illness front. Spaniard Pau Mayor who had missed the last three weeks with a thigh injury returned to action last Saturday and featured in both victories with no ill effect so all being well should be fully fit for this weekend’s trip to Hemel. Great Britain Under 18 point guard David Chive also returned to the fold against Worthing and Essex and looks set to feature again this weekend alongside Ben Dixon and Matias Boho who have recovered from illness. The only player currently on the injured list is Chive’s GB Under 18 colleague Sam Grant who is nursing an on-going back problem and it is not known when he will be able to return to action.
Rockets will be looking to finish 2019 on a high to go along with five national league teams reaching cup semi-finals after Christmas with the club’s Division One men and women both joining the Under 16 Premier, Under 18 Men and Women in the last four of their respective national cup’s after the Christmas break.
To keep up to date with all the latest news and information over the Christmas period and prior to Rockets’ first game of 2020 when they host Westminster Warriors on Sunday 5th January, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex, follow the club on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website – www.readingrockets.co.uk
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