With injury and sickness having depleted Coach Keane’s squad and interfered with his game preparation, he had no hesitation in promoting 18yo Asher Ndah to the starting five. The John Madejski Academy student showed not only his talent but also his invaluable worth to Rockets at this top level as he blitzed the opening quarter with ten personal point but also stroked a key buzzer beating treble getting Rockets to within a single point of their visitors at the interval.
In fact the first score of the game was a treble from Ndah and though the mercurial Nick Richards spun to extend Rockets early advantage, a 6-0 Bradford Dragons run caused Coach Keane to call a time-out. Liam Davis hit a jump shot and then a long two but Dragons shooting guard David Walsh was on electric form hitting three trebles in the opening period as he also took the last shot to give the visitors a 27-20 lead at the first break.
Guard Ben Dixon took his usual charge, a characteristic of the Aussie and then he drove, drew the foul and made a crucial three point play and cause Dragons Head Coach Chris Mellor to take a time-out. Another pair of trebles from the Dragons guard Walsh was matched with fast breaks and steals from Rockets which they converted into points to reduce the deficit. A Davis block lit up the court and a Richards electrically fast back track stopped a certain Dragons score. A brace of free throws from Carr brought Rockets to within three points before another Dragons treble. However the tempo had now increased markedly by the hosts and with Carr scoring off an offensive rebound and receiving an assist from Richards to add to his score, it was just left to the young Ndah to stroke the buzzer beating treble seeing the home team behind by just 45-46 at the interval.
As the third quarter started Dragons Walsh had scored 22 of their 46 points so was clearly a target for Rockets better defence….and how well they stopped him throughout the remainder of the game as Walsh didn’t add to his personal score. Davis and Richards gave Rockets the lead at the start of the period and then a Richards steal and finger roll coupled to a Dixon drive and a Davis pull up jump shot saw Rockets 55-50 up. Ndah and Dixon double teamed Dragons to cause the visitors to turn the ball over much to the delight of the appreciative crowd and then Matias Boho hit a wide treble to increase Rockets lead midway through the quarter having also kept Dragons to just four points in that time. Carr needed a further rest having been winded in one collision , and he didn’t have much wind at the start of the game !!.Captain Potter came in for a three point play but five unanswered points including a buzzer beating Dragons treble meant Rockets lead was just 63-61 as the final quarter beckoned.