Reading Rockets suffered back-to-back defeats in another double header weekend with an agonisngly close defeat to BA Lions before a loss against Loughborough Riders.
BA lions 82 v 79 Reading Rockets
In a game that swayed from Rockets to the hosts, there was a titanic battle as Rockets came from 11 adrift with under four minutes to go to miss with a brace of treble efforts that could have given them the victory.
With Leome Francis still out with a knee injury the teenager, Kivuvu Live started for Rockets, scored early and ended up their second top scorer as he worked hard and well inside.
The young Lions fought tenaciously for every ball and the scorers were kept busy as the lead changed hands with almost every possession in the first quarter till Rockets finished with a 14-5 run to have a 28-20 advantage at the first break with the academy players, Latrell Maitland and Ronnie Oguekwe scoring and making assists.
O’Showen Williams and Jaz Bains had hit their trademark trebles though both were to miss out in the end game scenario.
Rockets, having enjoyed an eight point advantage, saw Lions turn the table in quarter two as they drew level with an eight point period win of 23-15.
Williams had scored a pair of quick scores and coupled to Chuck Duru finishing well inside, Rockets had opened up a 12 points lead. Rockets were still six points up with four minutes to the interval at 40-34 but a 9-3 Lions run, despite another Williams treble, saw the game tied on 43.
However a devastating poor quarter from Rockets which they lost 12- 29 as Lions hit three trebles and were more alert throughout the period caused consternation with Head Coach Alan Keane.
Rockets were slow to defend and picked up many fouls though Bains scored with a treble but Reis Pinnock was called for a technical foul which Lions capitalised on from the free throw line.
Duru hit a pair from the penalty stripe but Lions led 72-55 as the final quarter beckoned.
An 11-4 early Rockets run thanks to a brace of Bains trebles coupled to a Ben Dixon drive followed by a Dixon treble, stirred up the Rockets players. However, the Lions just kept battling away and soon enjoyed a 79-68 advantage.
Sam Toluwase made a lay-up and Pinnock another steal before Live received an assist from Bains to score before making another lay-up immediately after.
When Toluwase was secure from the free-throw line Rockets were just four points adrift with one minute 28 seconds remaining. Williams hit a penalty shot to reduce the deficit to just three points before Lions responded with a score.
Live scored with a jump shot to see Rockets back to a single shot behind Lions as the clock showed 49 seconds to go. Rockets stopped Lions from scoring but missed a brace of trebles in this time to end up tantalisingly close but losing 79-82.
Reading Rockets 77 v 95 Loughborough Riders
For their fourth game in 8 days, Rockets didn’t have the energy required to beat the talented Riders who effectively kept their 15 point interval advantage throughout the second half to secure the win.
Rockets won the tip and scored first through a tip-in from Sam Grant which Reis Pinnock added to moments later but that was the only time Rockets led in this game. Riders rained three trebles including a brace form ex Rocket Harrison Gamble who proved a thorn in the side throughout the game as he hit 21 points and took down nine rebounds.
Again Coach Keane played the academy players from early on with Latrell Maitland scoring with a drive and giving an assist to O’Showen Williams, Rockets most consistent player and scorer, to finish off the glass and add the penalty shot as he was fouled in the process.
When Ben Dixon gave Williams another treble Rockets were just two adrift at 15-17. Chuck Duru drove to score after Riders had hit a treble and then Williams hit another treble from the top of the key to see Rockets just a single point behind at 19-20.
Pinnock stopped a certain score with a brilliant run and stop but a treble effort on the buzzer rimmed out leaving the hosts 21-27 in arrears.
Rider’s Conroy Hayden not only hit 15 points but made 14 assists as he led the Riders charge with a convincing quarter of 30-21 giving the visitors a have time lead of 57-42, something Rockets never recovered from despite all their efforts.
Williams and Duru were the only Rockets in double figures at the interval and still so at the end of the game as usual contributors failed to trouble the scorers. Dixon floated a shot to score and then took down a defensive rebound as Duru drove the end line to score and see Rockets just 29-32 adrift but Riders re-introduced Gamble to help them take control again.
Pinnock sent an assist to Sam Toluwase to score before Williams stroked another treble keeping Rockets in contention at 36-38 mid way through the period but a 19-6 run by Riders saw them go to the interval with a 57-42 lead.
A much tighter defence from both sides reduced the scoring to just 14-15 in the third period in Riders favour as Chuck Duru hustled on the floor getting possession from which Williams stroked a treble.
Kivuvu Live made a steal and scored whilst Jaz Bains took a charge but a tough call gave Riders a three-point play right at the end of the quarter and a 72-56 advantage going into the final period.
A great team move was finished with Williams draining his fifth treble of the game which gave Rockets renewed faith as they reduced Riders lead to single figures less than three minutes into the quarter at 63-72.
A Dixon drive and assist to Williams coupled to Toluwase spin and finish kept up the pressure on Riders and even when Pinnock took a defensive rebound and went coast to coast to score, it just wasn’t enough as Riders rode away from the John Madejski Academy with the win and a score of 95-77.