The Wokingham Paper

Reading Rockets look to stop losing run in play-off battle

Nick Richards. Reading Rockets v Solent Kestrels.

READING ROCKETS (13-8) will be hoping to put their recent run of three consecutive losses behind them when they face a daunting double header weekend as they visit play-off rivals.

They face Derby Trailblazers (14-7) on Saturday evening, 7.30pm tip-off, before heading further north to take on Bradford Dragons (11-10) on Sunday afternoon, 4.15pm tip-off.

 Rockets suffered a surprising defeat to relegation threatened Essex and Herts Leopards who chalked up only their third win in 21 outings against the Berkshire outfit as they earned a hard fought 91-97 overtime victory to keep their hopes alive of remaining in NBL Division One.

 The Reading team still have it all to do if they are to now qualify for the post season and face two teams either side of them in the league table. Rockets lost out to Saturday’s opponents back in December by 77 points to 102 but were able to beat Bradford the following weekend as they recorded a narrow 78-75 success.

 Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane was disappointed to see his team slip up against a rejuvenated Leopards outfit but still knows his team is on a journey and is confident his group can bounce back this weekend. The Irishman said,

 “Last weekend was a tough loss for us but credit must go to Essex who played so much better than their league position. Despite this disappointment, we must continue to work hard and grow this weekend in practice ahead of a really tough double header weekend.”

 “Derby have just come off the back of a really impressive win over Thames Valley Cavaliers and it will take a lot to stop their inside threat but we will plan and prepare for that this week as we do with every game.”

 “We then travel to Bradford who will give us some similar problems to solve with defending the paint and the battle of the boards working against players like (Ricky) Fetske and (Rihard) Sulcs so it’s two very challenging but important games this weekend and the test will be can we prepare well enough and execute on Saturday before recovering in time for another tough game on Sunday.”

 Rockets were able to field a near to fully fit team last Sunday for the first time in two months with Spanish duo Matias Boho and Pau Mayor returning to full practice last week. Australian Ben Dixon was able to play despite a dislocated finger sustained in training and Under 18 forward Sam Grant was also available for selection after a four month lay-off with a back injury.

 Having lost four games on the bounce in all competitions the Berkshire outfit will be looking to keep up their excellent record of reaching the post season in all ten of their previous NBL Division One campaigns as they 2019-2020 campaign begins to reach its climax.

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