Tag: #nationalcupfinals

Match Report – Cup Final – Solent Kestrels v Reading Rockets

Solent Kestrels 90 v 67 Reading Rockets.

Despite losing the National Cup Final on Sunday to the unbeaten Kestrels both Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson  and Head Coach Alan Keane were extremely proud of the way the depleted team played and represented Rockets in one of only 3 National trophies this season.

A final Saturday morning fitness test on both Spanish players, Matias Boho and Pau Mayor, revealed that neither could participate in any way due to knee ligament and Achilles injuries respectively, so coupled to the absence of long term injured A J Carr and new signing Leome Francis being cup tied, the Berkshire outfit took to the court with just 4 senior players. However the six Academy players made much contribution as they played 43% of the game showing just how blessed Rockets is with such talent for today and the future. ‘Our programme is designed for the development of young players and giving them exposure at the highest level of English basketball’ said Rockets Chairman ‘And in Alan Keane we have the very best coach to develop these players for either USA colleges or the professional game in main land Europe as well as with Rockets ‘ added Johnson.  He was immensely proud of Rockets achievement in reaching the National Cup Final and the way they played throughout the game, playing hard and raising their game from what looked like a game too far with the devastating injuries Rockets currently have.

Obviously Head Coach Alan Keane was disappointed with the loss but nonetheless very proud of his young academy players. The talented and deep Kestrels squad  imposed themselves on the game from the tip hitting the opening 6 points but Ben Dixon and Liam Davis hit back with drives and jump shots whilst Nick Richards hit a fade away shot and then immediately ran the length of the court to make a stop letting all the Rockets supporters and his team mates know that Rockets were here to play at their best whatever the circumstances.

After the 15-28 first quarter reverse Rockets lost the services of Davis as he was called for a second foul when Rockets fans thought he’d made a great block. Besides the ball not dropping into the basket as frequently as they’d hoped, Rockets persevered as Ed Potter was working tirelessly inside scoring and taking down rebounds with Dixon adding to his personal points tally though it was a 19 point deficit at the interval as Rockets trailed 30-49.

Just what could Coach Keane get out of his team in the second half. An excellent display is the answer as Rockets won the third quarter 19-16 and just lost this half by the smallest of differences 37-41 as Richards came alive offensively hitting 18 points , young Ross Stepney hit Rockets sole treble , David Chive took down 8 rebounds and made 3 steals as Rockets upped the intensity and speed. Davis enjoyed one of the few slam dunks in the game and Rockets players flung themselves on the floor to hustle for possession but a brace of trebles from Kestrels in the last minute gave the scoreboard an unfair reflection on Rockets efforts.

The game’s top scorer was Rockets Nick Richards who hit 22 pts, took down 8 rebounds and made a pair of steals and 5 assists in a complete performance. Rockets Ed Potter had a double double with 16 pts and 13 rebounds whilst Liam Davis scored 10 pts and took down 9 rebounds . It would be remiss not to mention Academy player David Chive who also took down 8 rebounds and made 3 steals to compliment his 5 points.


Basketball Hotline 0118 926 3040

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




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 ?


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


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


Rockets Historic National Cup Finals weekend

Next weekend on Sat 19 and Sun 20th Jan Reading Rockets will travel to Essex University where both their U 18 teams will be challenging for the titles whilst the Rockets Ladies will also be representing the club in the Senior Cup final less than 24 hours later on the same court.

This is the first representation of 3 teams in the National Cup Finals by Rockets in its 21 year history and is a true reflection of the developments of Rockets Academy programme, especially the Girls one as half the Senior Ladies team is comprised of U 18 Academy girls. The Academy programme is overseen by G.B. U 18 Junior Men Head Coach and Commonwealth Assistant Head Coach Alan Keane who’s in his third season at Rockets.

Ladies Head Coach David Sanchez, is thrilled to have the U 18 Girls Head Coach Blai  Benlloch Villagrasa as his assistant and together the Spaniards have made major contributions to the female game in their 3 years with Rockets. With the Junior Men programme also having grown in stature since Keane’s arrival, the future looks very rosy for Rockets. Coach Keane has also got the Senior Men into the National Trophy semi-final stage.

Rockets Ladies reach the National Cup Final

Their coach David Sanchez comments:

From a coach’s perspective it is fantastic to reach a final. This one is my second year as the head coach of the ladies team and we were thirsty to get into a final with these girls. From my point of view, this year was going to be hard, as we have many young girls but they bring lots of energy. The semifinal game was really hard: Anglia Ruskin was fighting until the end and it was a great game to demonstrate the level we can reach this year.  We look forward to preparing for and playing the final.  Both teams have a lot of talent and in my opinion the winner of the game will be the one who maintains their concentration and makes less mistakes.  We feel ready for the challenge and excited to have this chance to bring the trophy to the club.

image1 (002)

Andrea Gomez, one of Rockets’ players says:

The feeling of getting into the finals after defeating an amazing team such as Anglia Ruskin was amazing. We have been working really hard to get to play as we want to and with FAMILY spirit and even though we still have a lot to improve, that game was a reflection of that hard work and TEAM spirit that we have. We all are so excited to be in the final and losing is not in our minds. We want to enjoy and have a game that we all can happily remember.

We have a great team in front of us that plays really well.   I’m sure it’s going to be a really hard game for both sides and the winner will be the one who wants it more. I’m sure each one of us will give the 120% to get that W and enjoy TOGETHER.

It’s always a challenge to play a final, but we feel ready for it.

Rockets Under 18 Girls in the National Cup Final

Looking forward to the game, their coach, Blai Benlloch comments:

“I am really excited and proud of my team for reaching the cup final as I think they deserve to be there after showing a high level of determination and competitiveness in the first part of this season. We can’t wait to play and enjoy the final as it promises to be a very special day!”

Saffie Jarju, one of the team, says:

“Playing in the finals is a huge achievement for us and an exciting experience in our basketball careers. It will give us a chance to play to our full potential and be strong together as a team.”

Rockets Under 18 Women (002)


Rockets Junior Men in the Under 18 National Cup Final

Ben Fisher is the coach of Rockets Under 18 boys and comments

cid:image001.jpg@01D4A784.2CD84680 “To reach a national final is always such a special achievement and we are all really proud of our guys in being able to achieve this feat. Haringey will be a tough opponent but if we can continue to commit to everything we do and be relentless with everything over the forty minutes then we have a great chance of success through our performance. It promises to be a great weekend for our club and we can’t wait to compete.”

The team’s captain is David Obediah and he says:

“We are all really looking forward to playing in the cup final and for most of us it is the first opportunity to do so. We have been working really hard this season to be the best version of ourselves and in turn be a difficult team to beat. We will go out and give everything against Haringey as we try to put in a performance worthy of a national final and ultimately a win.”