Reading Rockets vs Team Solent Kestrels

Rockets took a tighter grip on a home tie in the Play-off Championship as they deservedly beat league leaders Solent Kestrels by a dozen points and stay securely in third position in the league with two games to go.

The game started at an electric pace as Sydney Donaldson scored Rockets opening four points before Solent troubled the scorers. Tim Gill took the first of his fifteen rebounds to score and the mercurial Scotty Hendricks lit up the arena with the first of his seven trebles. When captain Danny Carter gave an assist for Gill to score with a floater, then punished Kestrels from the free throw line before scoring off another offensive rebound, Rockets enjoyed a thirteen point advantage at 17-4. This double digit lead was something they enjoyed for virtually all the game except for a moment or two when Kestrels came within 5 / 6 of the hosts.

A 23-12 first quarter reflected the efforts and determination shown by the players to take the scalp of the National trophy winners for the first time this season. In fact the twelve point win means that should these teams end up in a head to head, Rockets have the edge having only lost at Southampton by eleven points. A 24-23 second period kept Rockets ahead but never comfortable against a talented and deep south coast outfit. Hendricks hit a couple of trebles, the last on the buzzer, whilst Declan Soukup was scoring as well as sending assist to his colleagues. Donaldson stood firm to take a charge and then made a fake, scored with the fall back and drew the foul making a three point play as Rockets started to move away form kestrels. But the league leaders fought back with a 6-0 , their best of the first half before Soukup arrived late to take a great pass and score edging Rockets 47-35 ahead at the interval. Only four of Rockets players had scored but each had double figures.

Rockets thought they’d scored from the first possession but the officials overruled it though Rockets Head Coach suggested it was  a new rule and the score should have stood. Nonetheless Carter again sent an assist to Donaldson who finished well and soon Rockets had scored 50 points and led by fifteen. Four misses from the free throw line by Kestrels didn’t help their cause but Rockets were all over them defensively…most definitely their best defensive performance of the season to date. Another Hendricks treble saw Rockets ahead by 57-39 before back to back trebles from Kestrels point guard Herman Senor coupled to a three point play ( Kestrels 9-0 run being their best of the evening ) but Hendricks drained another treble before Soukup scored with a floater to see Rockets maintain their double digit advantage 62-51.

A Hendricks steal and score got Rockets firing as the final quarter began but Kestrels stopped Rockets next 3 possessions and added four points to get close at 59-65 on the back of an 8-0 run. Carter stopped the rot and then who else but Hendricks stroked a downtown treble and Soukup gave Carter a simple finish to re-store Rockets double digit lead at 71-61. Again Kestrels hit back to find themselves just six points down as the end game approached but Donaldson sent a great pass to Hendricks to hit his seventh treble… a feat he did last weekend too…before the very impressive Donaldson hit a brace from the free throw line to secure a fine and crucial victory 78-66.

Another fine team performance saw Rockets take the spoils with Scotty Hendricks hitting 27 pts., making 5 steals, 4 assists  and taking down 5 rebounds in one of the best all round performances by any Rockets player this season. He was ably supported by Sydney Donaldson who hit 19 pts., took down 8 rebounds and made 3 steals whilst Declan Soukup had 14 pts., made 5 assist and took down 6 rebounds and Tim Gill hit had a double double with 13 pts., and 15 rebounds.

Rockets final weekend of the league season will be spent up north in Newcastle where they play current league champions Northumbria before going east to Bury where they take on Lancashire Spinners. Then a  2 week break to the play-offs.

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Reading Rockets vs Kent Crusaders

This game was re-arranged form Saturdays postponement and still leaves Rockets with 3 games in 6 days this week !! The victory was not only their fourth consecutive win but also keeps the pressure on the teams above them in the league as they all vie for a top four finish and home advantage in the Play-off Championship which starts on 7/8 th April.

Captain Danny Carter began by showing Rockets strength in the paint as he spun to score before the other in the twin towers attack, Tim Gill did likewise moments later. With the most influential Declan Soukup sending the first of his ten assists cross court to sharp shooter Scotty Hendricks to drain a treble, Rockets were all over the court form the opening minutes. However Crusaders are a very talented young team coached by ex-Rocket Lloyd Gardner who gets the absolute most out of them and they fought to stay in touch, despite some great team play by the developing Rockets. A pas and return between Gil and Ali Sbai saw the 19 yo finish well before Soukup took down a key rebound and sent a floater to add to his score. Jonny Foulds copied Soukup moments later and saw Rockets keep their advantage as the opening quarter ended 23-20 in Rockets favour.

A 30-17 second period saw Rockets on fire as Ed Potter scored inside and young Alex Drincic scored off a Soukup assist. When Sydney Donaldson made a steal, Potter was the benefactor and Rockets held their first double digit lead at 33-23. Carter scored off the glass and Potter fought tenaciously to gain possession. Foulds took a charge and stopped a certain Crusaders score, all before Rockets finished the quarter with a demonstration of their shooting prowess as Hendricks hit a brace of trebles and Foulds stroked one out wide. But Crusaders has a pair of three point plays to sty in touch at the break though 37-53 adrift of the hosts.

Crusaders had spent the interval preparing well for the second half though found themselves 64-45 down after the opening exchanges as Foulds hit a treble, Soukup took a charge, Gill continued his dominance of the boards at both ends and Carter scored inside. A three and four point play ( most unusual in basketball but due to Crusaders player scoring with a long treble and hitting the free throw as he had been fouled in the process) midway through the quarter spurred the Crusaders to a 12-0 run and narrow the deficit to 69-57. Carter and Potter halted the advance as they scored, seeing Rockets enter the final stanza 74-63 ahead.

Despite taking down three consecutive offensive rebounds Rockets couldn’t score until a Soukup to Gill to Soukup excellent play saw the Aussie stroke a treble. Gill was outstanding on the boards and scoring where it hurts, in the paint and Hendricks hit his fourth treble of the evening from a Carter dish to secure a 10-2 run and a 84-65 lead. A Crusaders treble coupled to their secure points from the free throw line as Rockets found themselves in team foul trouble early in the fourth quarter due to a pair of technical fouls called by the referees, gave crusaders more encouragement but a professional end game form Rockets saw them secure another victory before the double header weekend ahead.

Top scorers for Rockets were Tim Gill with 21 pts., and 19 rebounds, Scotty Hendricks with 15 pts., Declan Soukup with a magnificent 15 pts., 10 assists and 9 rebounds and Danny Carter with 14 pts.


Reading Rockets vs Team Northumbria

In a pulsating game worthy of the fight for Play-off home advantage, Rockets took a major step to secure that with a fine team win against a very talented northern side who have their eyes firmly on seeking consecutive league titles.

A 27-15 opening quarter in Rockets favour was responded to with a 15-12 Northumbria second quarter leaving the game tantalising close at the interval with the defending champions nosing ahead 40-39. Sydney Donaldson opened Rockets account but a 6-0 N’bria run showed all the spectators in the Bohunt School arena that neither side wanted to let the other get the upper hand for long. The games’ MVP Declan Soukup began his outstanding performance by draining a treble before dishing assists to Ali Sbai who stroked a brace of trebles in a 25-9 run to take the quarter and give N’bria’s Head Coach, Marc Steutel food for thought.

Steutel did so in the 2 minute break and N’bria went on a 5-0 run followed by a 10-0 run to tie the scores on 34. Danny Carter was prominent whilst Tim Gill had to spend time on the bench having fallen foul of the officials three times early in the game. As he was secure form the free throw line, scored with a left handed hook shot, spun for another score before falling hard on the court as he fought for a defensive rebound. A short time on the physio’s couch had him returning to the fray and giving an assist   to Donaldson. An exchange of trebles form Rockets Scotty Hendricks and ex Rocket Lewis Champion meant Rockets trailed by a single point 39-40 at the interval as N’bria responded with a 25-12 quarter.

The game was well poised but only N’bria had any player ( two ) in double figures at the break and had enjoyed 11 form 18 points form the free throw line compared to Rockets 3 from 4.  Soukup lit up Rockets offence as he dished to Donaldson to hit a treble and then to Gill to score inside. With Hendricks hitting 2 from 3 penalty shots and Sbai again stroking a treble, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces had clearly garnered his team to up the tempo and find that free player. Carter scored and sent an assist to Soukup to edge Rockets ahead 52-47  but after a few exchanges a N’bria treble tied the scores on 54. N’bria hit another treble but Sbai drained one to tie the scores again on 57. The indestructible Donaldson drove, was fouled but hit the pair of free throws before Sbai gave Ed Potter an easy finish as Rockets led into the final stanza 62-59.

Having defeated another top team in Manchester Magic last week, the Rockets supporters dared to dream they could take a victory here as Soukup found an open Hendricks to extend Rockets lead to six with the first score of quarter four. The game was at fever pitch with Donaldson again and again throwing himself on the floor to fight for possession for Rockets and bringing Rockets supporters to their feet in admiration. N’bria scored form the free throw line but Rockets kept a 5, 6 and 7 point advantage as the clock headed to the end game scenario. How appropriate that Soukup should be the one to stroke a crucial treble and open up a double digit Rockets lead with just three minutes remaining. N’bria threw up the trebles but to little avail and when the visionary Soukup sent a cross court pass to Hendricks to drain another treble the advantage was twelve points which Rockets remained firm to take a well earned victory and set them up for another mighty challenge next weekend when they take on title favourites L’boro Student Riders.

This was a further improved team performance as six Rockets players finished up with double digit scores led by Declan Soukup with 16 pts., 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Scotty Hendricks had 15 pts., with both Danny Carter and Ali Sbai hitting 13 pts., apiece….Carter taking down 8 rebounds and giving 4 assists as returns to his best and his role as captain whilst Sydney Donaldson had 11 pts., and Tim Gill 10 pts.


Reading Rockets vs Loughborough Student Riders

This was a great advert for the top division of English basketball as two of the early title contenders battled it out with the final quarter being the crucial period as Riders kept Rockets to Just 8 points whilst stroking five trebles to break away form Rockets-and take the victory.

The game that promised so much lived up to its anticipation as both defences were on top throughout and only the absolute top quality moves and shots got through. With both teams on a 5-1 league record something had to give and with Declan Soukup welcomed back to the team after sickness and Tim Gill and Scotty Hendricks carrying injuries, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces knew he’d need to rotate his squad to get the best out of this trio. Jonny Foulds opened the scoring for Rockets quickly followed by a pair of inside moves by Sydney Donaldson and Tim Gill before Soukup hit his trademark pull up jump shot. Riders hit a treble which was matched by Ed Potter but a 5-0Riders finish to the quarter saw them lead 19-17.

The scores were quickly level on 19 as Rockets stopped Riders form scoring for nearly three minutes at the start of the period. A Soukup drive, Potter offensive rebound score and Joel Keeble treble edged Rockets ahead 26-21. Gill was working hard for the rebounds as Donaldson lead the team with a great save which was converted with a Hendricks assist to Gill. Riders took the lead momentarily but Gill and Donaldson kept Rockets noses in front and a treble from Ali Sbai saw Rockets go the interval 38-33 ahead.

When Gill hit a shot form the top of the key Rockets enjoyed a seven point lead but the game changed when Donaldson was called for his third foul and Gill for fouls three and four so both needed to be substituted . Three trebles by Riders were answered by the Ponder form Foulds, Hendricks and Sbai as the tight game was tantalising placed at 53-51 as the final quarter beckoned.

A 8-0 Riders run saw them edge ahead at 59-53  it Foulds stopped the rot for Rockets. With both defences on top it was only outstanding shooting that began to separate ms as Riders hit two pairs of back to back trebles to open up a nine point lead that they were never going to relinquish despite Rockets best efforts. A 20-8 final quarter determined that Riders took the spoils.

Top scorers for Rockets were Tim Gill with 10pts., and 13 rebounds, Declan Soukup with 9 pts.,4 rebounds and 4 assists, Jonny Foulds with 8 pts., and 10reboundsand Ali Sbai with 8 pts.

Rockets now travel to Kent on Sunday to take on Kent Crusaders in another double header weekend


Reading Rockets vs Cardiff City

In a display of excellent basketball and unforgiving pressure Rockets eased past lower league opposition in the form of the Welsh Div.3 side who beat Worthing Thunder just one week ago to reach this stage. From tip to buzzer Rockets never took their foot off the power pedal scoring at least 30 points in each quarter, something of a new record for Manuel Pena Garces and his side.

Sydney Donaldson troubled the scorers first with a treble and drive score quickly followed by a right hand slam dunk from left handed Joel Keeble. Tim Gill again dominated the boards at both ends picking up 10 personal points in the opening quarter including a double handed slam dunk as Rockets took this period 30-7.

Ali Sbai gave Gill a superb assist and then received a similar gift from Rockets captain Danny Carter. Donaldson was driving determinedly to the basket with regularity giving him 15 points before the interval. Carter was spreading telling passes in various guises enabling his team mates to feast on the assists and occasionally hitting a pull up jump shot himself. Sbai showed his vision with a length of the court pass from end line to adjacent to the ring for Gill to finish but Donaldson sealed the half time at 61-17 as he sent an assist to Sbai for a treble and then scored with a buzzerbeating drive,

Cardiff had their best quarter when they scored 14 pts in the third but Rockets had their best too with a 32 point haul. Quick thinking by Declan Soukup gave Gill a score off the glass before three assists by Donaldson to Keeble, Gill and Keeble again , for a treble, coupled to a Soukup pull up score saw Rockets to a 50 point lead at 72-22 mid-way through the third
quarter. Jonny Foulds purple patch was this period as he stroked a treble from the top of the key, drove and scored off the glass, took down an offensive rebound to score and then was the grateful recipient of a Donaldson dish to hit another treble. Carter finished the quarter with 5 personal points and one of his 8 assists to Donaldson as Rockets enjoyed a 93-31 lead.

Sbai opened Rockets continued barrage with a double handed slam and Donaldson with perfect timing drove to score on the buzzer. Cardiff’s only treble of the game came early in this final period but Carter was masterful with his assists, Gill still working hard inside and recent promote from Rockets Div.4 side Charles Acquah Davis hitting a treble as Rockets won comfortably by 124 -44 and secured a quarter final spot in the National Cup where they’re drawn away . The game to be played on Sun 19th Nov .

Top scorers for Rockets were Donaldson with 26 pts., and 4 steals; Tim Gill with a double double of 24 pts., and 13 rebounds; Jonny Foulds also with a double double of 19 pts., and 12 rebounds; Ali Sbai with 17 pts., Joel Keeble with 12 pts., and Carter with 8 pts., 10 rebounds and 8 assists BUT make no mistake this was an awesome team display with every player scoring and playing a significant role as coached by Manuel Pena Graces who left the
arena with a broad smile on his face recognising that next weekends’ Manchester away league game will be a much different affair.