Tag: #JMA Academy

JMA Rockets return from their Erasmus trip to Spain

22 players and 6 staff were privileged enough to spend 2 weeks in Spain recently thanks to the Erasmus plus programme. Erasmus plus is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus plus aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including school education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector.

The group set off from Gatwick airport to Valencia at 7.30 in the morning, an early start for all! On arrival, the boys and girls teams checked in to their home for the week before a short walk to L’Alqueria, Valencia Basket’s state of the art training facility which has eleven, yes eleven full size basketball courts, as well as a huge gym/fitness centre, and a restaurant!

Here, the group were able to watch multiple Under 18 Euroleague games in the Adidas Next Generation tournament which included our very own former JMA Rocket, Matthew Marsh, who is in his second year playing for FC Barcelona and doing very well! To end our first day in Spain, we watched the Valencia Women’s first team play in La Fonteta, the main arena. They lost to a very impressive Girona team but it was awesome to see Carmen Segura’s sister Lorena back in the squad!

The following day was pretty similar, watching a variety of games which culminated in Valencia’s ACB team hosting Tenerife and recording a 98-91 win in front of 8,000 orange fans! What an atmosphere and such a great opportunity to see some of the highest quality basketball on show.

After 2 days of intense basketball, it was time for a change of scenery as the group had a guided tour of the beautiful city of Valencia, learning about it’s history and traditions. After watching the Valencia Women train, it was the boys who would play their first game of the trip as they beat academy side Ferran Pizcueta 76-56 despite being a bit rusty from the Christmas break!

The group watched the ACB team train (so privileged!) and talked with Head Coach Jaume Ponsarnau as well as having some practice of our own, it was time to see 2020 in Valencia style! We went outside the town hall with probably thousands of other people but it was a really family orientated atmosphere as midnight struck with lots of music and fireworks. The behaviour of all students (and staff!) was exemplary so we were really impressed with their conduct and representation of JMA Reading Rockets.

A tour of Valencia’s magnificent Oceanographic centre coupled to a quite breath-taking dolphin show! Everyone really embraced the culture of that trip and this was certainly one of those moments.

The following day was preparation day for the main basketball event of the trip as both teams were getting ready to play in the Valencia Basket Cup. After their sessions, the group were hosted by a Spanish academy players parents for the afternoon as they put on a quite magnificent spread (sounds very English I know) including the traditional Spanish food, paella! A really nice afternoon was had by all and we were most grateful for that time together.

Tournament time soon came upon us and it was to be a very busy couple of days. The girls team faced some very high level opposition and were able to claim 7th position, a very respectable achievement considering who they were playing and their ever-growing injury list! The boys did incredibly well winning every game including beating Valencia Basket B in the final to lift the trophy and cap off a fantastic experience in the city of Valencia. The group also managed to fit in watching a Euroleague game on the Friday night as Valencia secured an impressive 91-77 win over Alba Berlin!

It was time for the group to move to their second destination of the tour as they embarked on the four hour coach trip to Madrid! As we arrived to Aristos, our new home for the next five days, we were greeted by a former Rockets Coach and our friend Raul Lozano who was hosting us during

our time in Madrid. The first day in the capital city was however quite a calm, relaxed day for everyone having just played 6 games in three days but the group did travel to the Wizink centre to watch Real Madrid v Valencia in the ACB, a game narrowly won by the hosts.

The first ‘proper’ outing for the group was a trip to the city centre where the players were put into mixed groups and set various challenges for the three hours they were given. Tasks such as eating tapas, asking someone a question in Spanish, doing a group dance in front of a famous building were just three of the nine tasks set which was done so well by all involved. To cap off this trip, no fewer than 5 former players of JMA Rockets visited us which was great as it showed us the impact we had during their time in England. The day was completed with the boys back in action as they played Aristos Under 20s and recorded a narrow win.

Wednesday saw a trip to Real Madrid’s iconic football stadium, the Bernabau, which was an amazing venue to go and see as well as learning all about the history of one of Europe’s best club’s. Some individual practices as well as some studying and resting completed the day before the final full day of the trip was upon us.

On Thursday, the group had one to one meetings with staff about their time in Spain as well as presenting their tasks from Tuesday, a very funny hour looking back at what they had managed to achieve! One final trip for the group was back to the Wizink centre to watch a Euroleague game between the hosts and BC Zalgris before heading back to the accommodation and getting ready to fly home.

The trip ended with the arrival back to JMA around midday in what was a fantastic two weeks for everyone involved. A huge thank you must be given to Erasmus, the John Madejski Academy, and Reading Rockets for all their help and support in making this trip happen as well as all the staff for their tireless commitment and organisation! Finally, a big congratulations to the players for representing themselves, the school, and the club so well over the two weeks as everyone involved gets right back to work with their respective teams as the business end of the 2019-2020 descends upon us!

JMA Rockets duo in Great Britain Under 18 Squad

John Madejski Academy students and Reading Rockets players Samuel Grant and David Chive have recently represented the Great Britain Under 18 team alongside Division One Men’s Head Coach and JMA Basketball Director Alan Keane who oversees the programme as Head Coach.Coach Keane selected 16 players for his initial squad but has been faced with a number of injuries and limited preparation time but this hasn’t stopped messers Grant and Chive cutting their teeth at the highest level. Both players attended the first camp in Manchester just over a week ago before being selected to represent their country in a warm up tournament to the European Championships in France last weekend.

Alongside their teammates, the pair faced three powerhouses at the Under 18 level, in France, Russia, and Croatia as Coach Keane and his men prepare for the European Championships at the end of the month in Greece. All four teams in the tournament currently hold Division A status with the Great Britain outfit of 2018 finishing in their highest position last year in seventh.

The tournament started with a heavy defeat to France before a narrow loss against Russia which saw  Sam Grant score 9 points and pull down 4 rebounds in his 11 minutes of play whilst David Chive had 9 rebounds from the point guard position to go with 10 points. In the final game of the tournament against Croatia, Chive was again active on the glass securing 5 rebounds for his team as the 17 year old started all three games and was a big factor heading into next week’s final camp in Loughborough.

JMA Rockets Performance Director Matt Johnson is really pleased to see the representation of players and coaches at GB level and was particular impressed with both Grant and Chive leading up to the European Championships. He said,

“Sam and David are both fantastic members of our school and club and we are thrilled to see all their persistence and hard work standing them in good stead as they continue their international journeys with the Great Britain Under 18 Men in France last week. Their journey with the Rockets over the last year has been one filled with consistent challenges and hurdles to overcome, from injury to coursework deadlines, EABL to Men’s Division One. The programme for any young athlete at this age group is a testing one and it is a testament to their upbringing, character and desire to get better each day.

We are very proud of all of our student athletes and to hear when any of them excel towards an International level is wonderful. We wish them and all the other young men involved all the best on their next training camps.” 

National Cup Finals weekend – Match Reports

Rockets Junior Ladies 65 v 60 Charnwood College Riders.

Rockets launched themselves with great propulsion into the opening 2 quarters of this first ever National Cup Final for Rockets Juniors Ladies as they stormed Riders 23-9 and 23-18 in the initial two quarters giving Rockets a comfortable 19 point advantage at the interval 46-27.

Carmen Moreno was finishing clinically with an average of over 83% conversion rate while Paula Tarrega was dominant on the boards for Rockets. With Noa Sanchez Marques also over 83% shooting percentage and making assists, it was now crucial for the U 18’s to not get complacent as they knew Charnwood would come out fighting…..and how they did !!

Rockets were restricted to just 11 points in the third period as Riders hit 15 and the game took on a different perspective. Now Rockets’ clinical finishing fell away as Riders defended with grit and determination as they fought to not lose 3 consecutive finals. Would the 57-42 advantage at the end of the third period be enough Riders began another charge ?

Each team wanted to lift the cup in front of their passionate supporters. It was a mighty strong fight back by Riders in the final quarter as they restricted Rockets to just 8 points whilst scoring 18 themselves but Rockets prevailed with scores at key times and solid defence in the end game as they took the victory and held the cup high through their 65-60 win.

This was very much a team effort though the top scorers for Rockets were Anabel Latorre Ciria as she raised her game in the second half to finish as the game’s MVP with 17 points and 12 rebounds whilst Carmen Segura Moreno also hit 17 points,  took down 4 rebounds and had a brace of assists and steals . Noa Sanchez Marques hit 16 pts., had 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Head Coach Blai Benlloch was thrilled with the Rockets Junior Ladies win as he recognises it’s the result of a dedicated academy investment programme at the John Madejski Academy .

Anabel Latorre Ciria – MVP

 

Rockets 71-73 Haringey Hawks

A pulsating game referred to by the commentators as one that will be regarded as the best ever U18 Junior Men Cup Final in the sports history ended with heart breaking final second defeat for Rockets as the final 3 point shot to lift the trophy, rimmed out and they found themselves forlorn on the court having truly given their all.

This is the way Head Coach Fisher encouraged them throughout, ‘Don’t leave anything on the court, do your utmost and be proud.’   And for sure he and his team did just that in front of the biggest and loudest supporters the day had experienced. The majority of these young men have another year at this level and will be striving to succeed in next year’s competition.
Rockets edged the opening quarter 17-16 but found themselves 33-39 adrift at the interval as Hawks lifted their finishing and stifled Rockets. The 15 minute break was a key time for Coach Fisher and his message was clearly received by his stalwarts as they took the third quarter 26-20 to leave the game delicately poised at 59 each as the final period began.

Hawks opened with a score but Rockets edged ahead thanks to a Sam Grant treble. Hawks had a 6-0 run midway through the quarter but Rockets cut that to three with just two and a half minutes left…. a huge time in Basketball. Three Rockets shots rimmed back and Hawks led by five with Just 28.9 seconds remaining . Rockets drove on seeking the cup triumph and with 16.9secs left scored to get within  three of Hawks. One from two from  the free throw line extended Hawks lead but another big Rockets treble with 7.7 secs on the clock meant Rockets were tied . Another opportunity from the free throw line edged Hawks ahead  by two. Again Rockets took off and the outstanding Grant launched a buzzer beating treble effort but it came back off the ring to leave an exhausted Rockets Juniors team bereft on the court. They had been in a fantastic final and Coach Fisher was proud of their magnificent effort in getting a National Cup Final and just falling a millimetres short of victory.

For Rockets Sam Grant finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists , Ross Stepney with 17 points and 16 rebounds and David Chive 10 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists .

An absolutely great Saturday for Rockets Junior Men and Women and a great future ahead for some truly talented players.

David Chive scoring for Rockets

 

Sam Grant – Rockets’ Top Scorer

 

vs

Results

TeamScoreOutcome
READING ROCKETS54Loss
Loughborough Student Riders81Win

In what was clearly going to be a tough final for Rockets Ladies as 7 of the Rockets team of 12 are not only Academy players ( under 18yo ) but had also played less than 24 hours before as they took the Junior Women title. So could they put the inevitable physical tiredness and the emotion of winning the day before, behind them.

Head Coach David Sanchez was well aware of that but was expectant as his team had fought many tough battles to reach this final and they were well prepared. However the sight of one of England’s brightest basketball hopes for many years being released from her primary professional league seniors ( Leicester Riders ) , on court, increased the level of difficulty against an already talented side. In reality Holly Winterburn for Riders and Monica Herranz for Rockets were the two outstanding stars of either team and fought for the MVP too.

Riders shot off to an initial 7-0 run before Rockets drew level on nine each midway through the opening period before Riders finished that quarter with a 12-0 blitz. Rockets had missed seven open shots and Winterburn had scored 13 of Riders 21-9 lead.  A stunned Rockets team used the 2 minute break but Riders charged to another 7-0 opening start to quarter two to enjoy a 28-9 advantage. Herranz hit 14 before the break including 2 from 3 trebles to help Rockets stay in contention though 25-41 in arrears.

The third period saw Rockets further adrift at 42-64 but these young players have a never say die attitude that was much appreciated by the packed stands and though going down to a better team on the day, gave a spirited display of what’s to come in the future for the whole female development programme. At Rockets.

With Herranz being rested in the final few minutes the final score was 54- 81 . Herranz had finished with 20 pts.,13 rebounds and 3 assists whilst 16 yo Carmen Moreno had 8 pts and 17 yo Noa Sanchez-Marques 7 pts, 3 assists and 3 steals.

Rockets still have much league action ahead before that draws to a close in April so why not pop along, watch them at JMA or Rivermead …or join one of young teams ?

Details

Date Time League Season
20/01/2019 13:00 National Cup 2018 / 2019

Venue

University of Essex
Boundary Rd, Colchester CO4 3WA, UK

 

JMA Rockets enjoy Erasmus trip to Spain

The John Madejski Basketball Academy with Reading Rockets took 22 players to Spain, visiting three of their beautiful cities in Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona.

The group departed from JMA at 2.30am in order to fly from London Luton airport at 6.30am – nice and early, or in most cases no sleep! A relatively smooth flight arrived in Madrid at around 9am local time and the group then started what seemed like an episode of Top Gear in their three 9-seater vehicles driven by Messrs Johnson (Clarkson), Benlloch (Hammond) and Fisher (May). The group was also accompanied by JMA and Rockets Division 1 Men’s Head Coach Alan Keane, as well as JMA’s Rebecca Anderson.

First stop for the party of 27 was to their accommodation at Aristos, the home club of former Rockets Coach Raul Lozano, where they would stay for four nights. After a short rest, the team travelled to Fuenlabrada to watch their ACB practice and have a Q&A session with GB Captain Dan Clark and Assistant Coach of Fuenlabrada Anna Montañana who also coached one of the JMA Rockets players Paula Romero Tarrega when she was younger.

Tuesday saw the group take a tour of the centre of Madrid with a familiar guide in former JMA Rockets player Iñigo Perez Baena. Later that day both boys and girls teams would play Tres Cantos, the home of both Iñi and Fidel Gomez who also had two years in Reading. Both teams played the club senior teams and were defeated with lots of learning occurring just 48 hours into the trip.

Wednesday morning was a time to reflect on the first two days, catch up on some rest, and for the players to meet with their coaches individually to discuss what they would be looking to gain from such an impressive trip. Both girls and boys teams then played Estudiantes that evening with the girls recording their first win coming from behind to take victory whilst the boys fell against a very impressive Under 18 outfit.

The following day and it was a trip to the NBA offices in Madrid to meet Alex Sarama. A most interesting presentation from a man that started coaching in Surrey and made the transition all the way to work in the biggest basketball association in the world. Later that day, the group visited the University in Madrid to meet the current GB Women’s Head Coach and Sports Psychology lecturer Chema Buceta. A fascinating insight was given to the players on all things surrounding the mental part of being an elite performer from self-talk, to confidence, to mindset and the like. An action packed day ended with a trip to the Wizink Centre to watch Real Madrid take on Buducnost in the Euroleague with the home team running out convincing winners 89-55.
Friday saw the end of the group’s time in Madrid and the three vehicles headed towards Blai Benlloch’s home town of Valencia. On arrival, the group was privileged to have a discussion with ex-WNBA player and Spanish star Marina Ferragut who is one of the most capped players in Spanish history.

The weekend started with a strength and conditioning session for the players followed by a very interactive physio session with Alvaro Gil. The players learnt how to tape themselves and each other in a really beneficial two hours. Later that day it was then time to visit another ex-JMA Rocket in former academy head coach Pedro Garcia Rosado. Now the head coach of women’s division two outfit Picken Claret in Spain, his team secured an 11-point victory.

Both teams were back on court practising on Sunday, getting ready for their upcoming games in the second week of the trip before watching Valencia v Fuenlabrada (the team they had previously seen train) in the ACB. Valencia Head Coach Jaume Ponsarnau visited Reading for three months about two years ago and it was his team that secured victory on the day 86-67 in another great spectacle for the tourists.

The start of the second week of the trip commenced with another S&C session and practices for both teams before an absolutely wonderful afternoon spent at Blai’s “summer house” where his mum and dad put on the most glorious spread of food including the traditional paella which was magnificent! Some fun then with Blai’s dog, Rudy and Gasol, as well as a trip in the swimming pool for some of our braver students ended what was a much-needed relaxed and fun time together.

Tuesday saw another action packed day with a trip to Valencia city centre in the morning followed by watching the Valencia Basket Women’s team train at their brand new and incredible training facilities at L’Alqueria del Basket. The girls’ team returned to the venue later in the day to claim a great victory over their Under 18 girls team whilst the boys suffered an agonising two point loss as Ben Fisher took the helm with Alan Keane returning to England on Division One Men’s duty.

The next day, the group was back at the Valencia headquarters for a talk with the Valencia Community Manager on all things social media. A very informative talk looked into the detail of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and how to use all the social media platforms effectively. After some familiar study time for the group it was game time for the boys as they fell to a very impressive Valencia Under 18 team.

Thursday came along and after a visit to the Valencia ACB team practice and some memorable time with Jaume, the three vans once again hit the road to Barcelona. A much more peaceful drive ended with a drop off at the hotel before heading to the Camp Nou complex to watch another Euroleague game, Barcelona v Maccabi Tel Aviv where the players and staff would be court-side for pictures with the players before the game. In what was an incredible atmosphere, Barcelona came out convincing winners taking a 74-58 win.

Friday, and it was back to Camp Nou for a tour of one of the most impressive football grounds in the world and the museum that accompanies the most impressive of architecture. After a great time there, both teams prepared for their final games against Joventud Badalona. In a shortened game, the girls secured another victory and the boys won their first game of the trip with an impressive 75-70 win on the club’s ACB court.

The penultimate day of the tour was a time to really enjoy the city of Barcelona and meet up with one of Rockets’ finest products – Matthew Marsh. The group travelled to L’Hospitalet to watch Marshy’s Under 18 team record a double digit victory with the 6’11 centre having two big dunks in the game much to the excitement of the supporting boys! Marshy then joined everyone for dinner at Barcelona’s NBA Cafe as the final evening of the trip came to a close.   The group returned to England the following morning and arrived back to JMA around 3pm after an incredible two weeks of highs, lows, learning, and enjoyment.

Thank you so much to Erasmus, the White Horse Foundation, the John Madejski Academy, and Reading Rockets for making the trip so enjoyable and memorable!

JMA Rockets Teenager Makes History with FC Barcelona Move

A 15-year-old basketball prodigy, trained and supported by Reading Rockets throughout 2018, has become the first British player to sign for FC Barcelona Basketball Club.

Matthew Marsh, who originally hails from Penryn in Cornwall, moved to Reading in early 2018 to attend the Rockets basketball programme based at John Madejski Academy.

From a small town with a population of just 7,000, Matthew’s basketball team was enthusiastic but without the infrastructure for someone of his stature – literally!

At 6ft10, Matthew’s active lifestyle, ambition and potential required a shift change. Conversations between his parents, Angela and Tim, his club and JMA Director of Basketball Matt Johnson, Matthew opted to move five hours into the country to Reading, where he has thrived.

In 2018 alone, the youngster has been fully supported by Academy staff, living away from home, training every day and playing at the highest level possible for his age group – the Elite Academies Basketball League (EABL).

Having the benefit of training with other international players, Matthew was recently selected for the Great Britain U16 squad, with whom he will compete in the European Championships this summer.

It was then that the call came from FC Barcelona, who offered the rising star a two-year scholarship, which begins in September. It caps a fantastic year for Matthew, who has recently concluded his GCSEs, and JMA Rockets, who have demonstrated its credentials as the go-to centre of excellence for aspirational young basketball players.

JMA Rockets Director of Basketball Matt Johnson commented: “It is a momentous occasion for Matthew and his family, as well as an incredibly proud moment for our school and club. These opportunities don’t arise often but Matthew absolutely deserves it; he is a great athlete, an excellent student and a well-mannered young man. The coaches and support he has received while at JMA Rockets has been of the highest level, and he has thrived in this environment. I have no doubts he will make the most of this opportunity.”

Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane added: “Matthew has worked hard at the academy this season. Although he is still new to the sport, he has put in the hours to get his body in great shape, and he will relish the chance to be in one of the best performance environments in the world. We look forward to following his progress very closely and wish him all the best for this wonderful opportunity.”

Matthew Marsh said: “I am delighted to be going to Barcelona to continue to develop my basketball career following an enjoyable and successful year with the Rockets and JMA where the support from coaches and staff has enabled me to pursue my dream career for which I am really grateful.”