In their first game in front of spectators and their first official game of the new season, Rockets stormed out of the blocks, lit up the arena on many occasions, and took their first victory by some margin against a young Wolves in St Albans on Saturday evening, with the game finishing 47-99.
Head Coach Dan Pearson had his hands full for his first game with new signing Reis Pinnock, picked up from league champions Solent Kestrels and only meeting many of his teammates on the team transport coupled to 3 senior absentees, one injured, one recovering from surgery and the last one being the import and final piece of the roster not arriving till Monday, Pearson used his academy youngsters as he did in the friendly tournament last weekend as he considers each one able to make major contributions on the floor whenever they’re called upon. Pearson had Sam Toluwase available for the first time and Lewis Champion was shirted up to try out his damaged finger.
All players and coaches took the knee before tip and were socially distanced on the bench but once the game began Rockets Tyler Cartanio opened his and Rockets accounts with great defence and then coast to coast to finish before, moments later, he scored off an offensive rebound and sent a dish to Jaz Bains to stroke a treble Bains and Cartanio continued to trouble the Wolves who’d hardly beared their teeth in the opening quarter which Rockets took 30-13. One highlight of this period was A J Basi throwing a quick pass to Cartanio who returned the compliment for Basi to stroke a treble.
Rockets kept pressing the Wolves and good team defences helped Oaklands turn the ball over as Rockets intercepted a number of passes to easily score with Reis Pinnock prominent here. Champion was secure from the free-throw line as they opened up a 50-13 lead having stopped Wolves from scoring till 3 minutes from the halftime interval when Wolves went on a 7-0 run to finish the period 20-54 adrift of Rockets.
A Cartanio score and a Bains rejection set the scene for the third quarter before Basi drove and Toluwase converted a pair of free-throw giving the Rockets a 40 point advantage at 62-22. A brace of trebles from Wolves gave them encouragement on either side of a Live Kivuvu score. An excellent Rockets trap saw Bains benefit with an easy score as Basi continued to influence the game, spraying passes all around the court as Rockets went into the last period 76-34 ahead.
Rockets didn’t let the speed slow down at all and continued putting pressure on the young Wolves with a 23-13 final stanza which included a three-point play followed by a slam dunk from Toluwase, a Bains fade away score quickly followed by a treble before excellent teamwork created the space for Basi to stroke as treble. A Pinnock layup was quickly followed by a big rejection by the recently re-joined Rockets guard as Ronnie Oguekwe finished his personal tally with yet another slam dunk as Rockets took the scalp of the Oaklands Wolves in the LLynch Trophy pool game.
The top scorers for the Rockets were Tyler Cartanio with a double-double of 26 pts and 12 rebounds coupled to 6 assists and 3 steals in a great all-around display. Jaz Bains hit 15 pts with A J Basi also having a double-double with 14 pts and 10 rebounds again coupled to 4 assists and 3 steals. Sam Toluwase hit 13 pts and Ronnie Oguekwe has 11 pts and 7 rebounds together with 3 blocks, a super contribution from the academy youngster.