Reading Rockets 91-97 Essex and Herts Leopards: Rockets suffer overtime defeat

ROCKETS were eventually beaten in a pulsating game where the lead changed hands 19 times and the game was tied on 12 occasions in overtime.

With the addition of three BBL professional players picked up when London City Capitals went out of business at the end of January, Rockets were only too well prepared for a very different game with Leopards whom they’d beaten in three earlier games this season. 

Elvisi Dusha and Orlan Jackman were awesome throughout the game as Dusha stroked six trebles in his games top scorer 34 points whilst Jackman had a double double with 26 points and 12 rebounds though Rockets led the stats in points from turnovers, points in the paint, second chance points and fast break points.

Rockets twin tower offence of Liam Davis and Leome Francis troubled Leopards from tip to buzzer with returning Ed Potter having a great second quarter to keep Rockets within a score at the interval. 

After an opening period when Nick Richards and Pau Mayor hit trebles, Rockets found themselves adrift by a single point at 20-21 before Potter scored four times under the basket as he took down offensive rebounds to see Rockets just 42 – 44 down at the interval after Dusha banked trebles with his first shot of the second quarter and again with a heart wrenching buzzer beating one at the end  of the period.

Seven Rockets players scored in the third quarter as Head Coach Alan Keane tried all combinations to stop Leopards sharp shooters whilst also finishing better themselves but Rockets found themselves five points adrift for most of this third period before a Leome Francis three point play and a buzzer beating Mayor treble saw the deficit exactly the same at 2 down at 62 – 64 as the fourth quarter beckoned.

Rockets were sharply out of the blocks at the start of the final stanza as Francis finished a Rockets fast break to tie the game on 64 with awesome American guard Nick Richards tying it again on 66and 68 before Francis gave Rockets the slenderest of leads at 70 – 69.

 A Chive steal and finish was quickly followed by a Chive treble and Rockets had opened up a 78 -71 advantage causing Leopards to take a time out with just over six minutes of normal game time remaining. 

Despite Richards efforts a brace of trebles saw Rockets lead drop to just two points at 80-78  midway through the quarter but again Potter finished inside. With two minutes and 45 seconds left Rockets called a time-out and Matias Boho hit his first two points of the game seeing Rockets three up with one minute and 21 seconds to go. 

Up again comes Dusha with a treble to tie the game on 86 and despite both teams having time and opportunity to secure the win, neither team took them so the first overtime this season lay ahead.

Despite Leopards having possession it was Richards who scored first for Rockets before making a steal scoring and drawing the foul as Rockets enjoyed a five point lead at 91 -86 with two minutes 44 seconds left on the clock. 

However a 11-0 finish including a pair of trademark trebles from Leopards gave them the victory in a most entertaining and competitive game which sees Rockets in sixth place in the league with just five league games remaining.

Top scorers for Rockets were Nick Richards with 28 pts, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals as Leome Francis had a double double with 18 pts, and 12 rebounds with Ed Potter doing similar with 14 pts and 10 rebounds and Liam Davis making it three Rockets players with double doubles as he hit 10 pts and took down 11 rebounds.

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