Reading Rockets (13-12) will be looking to finish in fifth position in the NBL Division One table this weekend but to do that they must beat already-relegated Manchester Magic (2-23) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex and hope Derby Trailblazers (14-11) lose to Hemel Storm the night before. If the two teams finish with the same record then the Rockets will take the higher seeded position thanks to beating the Trailblazers by more than they lost to them in league play. The Reading outfit lost the opening encounter 84-94 but secured an 87-74 away win meaning they would have the head to head should any tie occur.
A fourth straight loss for the Berkshire outfit could see them finish as low as eighth position should Essex Leopards (12-13) and Leicester Warriors (12-13) secure final day victories with both teams having the head to head over the Rockets. The Leopards have beaten the Rockets in both league match-ups this season, whilst the Warriors have the points advantage as they cancelled out their 96-82 defeat with a resounding 89-63 last month at Rivermead. The Warriors will host third placed Loughborough Riders whilst the Leopards will welcome champions elect Solent Kestrels (21-4) to Brentwood.
After seeing his side slip to their second and third defeats in a row with losses to Loughborough Riders (81-84) and Team Newcastle (77-80) last weekend, Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane knows Sunday’s game is crucial to secure the best league position possible and take a win into the post season. The Reading play-caller said,
“Last weekend’s two defeats were big blows for us but there is no time to dwell on it, we must learn and be better and move on to this weekend’s challenge. We performed well on Saturday against Loughborough which is a big positive but it was disappointing to lose the game but then to follow it up with a poor performance and poor result was tough to take. However, the one thing this group does is come back into practice, work hard to improve, hold each other accountable, and keep working to be the best versions of themselves and that is exactly what we will do this week in preparation.”
“This team can beat anyone on it’s day and now we need to find that ingredient to do so as we head into the last couple of games; I really believe in the guys and I think if we can mould a few things this week, we can be a force to be reckoned with in the post season.”
Rockets will go into their final home game of the 2018-2019 campaign with no new injury concerns and a fully fit roster to select from. Captain Danny Carter will play his last ever league game in front of his home crowd with the 30 year old forward retiring at the end of the season. The Berkshire outfit will play their play-off quarter-final game away from home the following weekend and will know their fate at the end of Sunday’s match-up against Manchester Magic which is also expected to be a sell-out.