Reading Rockets 90 – Worthing Thunder 97
In a pulsating game where Rockets were without two of their starting five due to injury, the game was tied on eleven occasions and both teams were kept to runs of nine point maximum. The Thunderdome was the place to be. Rockets had the lead for more of the time but within two minutes of the start of the final quarter, a pair of refereeing decisions went seriously against Rockets as they enjoyed a 72-67 lead. Reis Pinnock made the best stop of the day and then appeared to take a charge moments later but the officials called a foul on him followed by a technical foul and Reis exited the game taking away Rockets best defender. They still fought stoutly but a brace of trebles from Zaire Taylor hurt Rockets and proved a step too far as Thunder took the tie and move into the fourth round at the beginning of December.
Rockets hit the court running as Thunder’s first possession and goal effort was rejected mightily by Meshack Lufile. Reis Pinnock hit a treble and then made a stop before the game was tied for the first time. Jaz Bains drained a treble from the top of the key for Rockets before Pinnock went coast to coast to finish before a Thunder three drew the teams level on 11 each. Lufile worked inside scoring off offensive rebounds and power plays. Captain Ben Dixon hit his first from the free throw line before Rockets finished the period with three trebles for Bains, Dixon and then the academy star Live Kivuvu as the game was tied on 24 each at the first break.
Isaac Round drove to score at the start of the second quarter before Lewis Champion took a charge and Round stroked a treble quickly followed by another Bains treble tying the game on 34 apiece. In a few minutes all three of Rockets starting guards were called for three fouls meaning Head Coach Dan Pearson kept looking along his bench swapping players to try and minimise the damage . Sam Toluwase rose to the occasion again scoring off an offensive rebound, drawing the foul and making it a three point play . A cool assist from Bains to Lufile drew the teams level on 41 but a second assist from Bains to Lufile to slam dunk edged Rockets. Toluwase and Bains were secure from the penalty stripe and Rockets had a slender lead of 49-47 at the interval.
Bains continued his bombardment of the ring from beyond the arc with Dixon copying him. The score was tied on 58 when Pinnock was clearly fouled but no foul given and Thunder had a three point play with three minutes to go to the start of the final stanza. But Rockets fired again with a 10-3 run to lead again 68-65 before the torturous opening minutes of the fourth quarter for Rockets. However this Rockets side is deep on commitment and guile and despite being a key man short drew the scores level on 77 as Toluwase hit a treble causing Thunder to take a time out with almost 6 minutes remaining. With under three minutes left the score was 84-83 in Thunder’s favour when Taylor hit the brace of trebles for Thunder. Rockets began to sense this wasn’t going to be their night as Lufile appeared to score and get fouled but nothing was given. When Champion joined Pinnock with five personal fouls it was left to Bains to have the last say with his sixth treble and leaving the score 97-90 Thunder’s way.