Match Report: Nottingham Hoods

Reading Rockets 78 v 81 Nottingham Hoods

In a great exhibition of basketball at its very best , both teams fought tenaciously like a pair of heavyweight boxers seeking a points win. From tip to last buzzer you couldn’t take your eyes off the game and nor did the packed house at Rivermead, bursting with applause and excitement, rattling the bleachers and letting the players know how much they appreciated seeing such a contest.

Rockets won the tip as Tyler Cartaino continued his impressive run with a lay-up but as for the remainder of the game Hoods kept pace as the lead changed hands with almost every possession though Rockets had the slightest of edges at 19-18 at the end of the opening quarter. Hoods 7’0 power forward Mo Williams was prominent throughout as was Rockets 6’9” centre Meshack Lufile as the two big men matched up throughout the game, both finishing with impressive stats of 18 and 17 points respectively as they led each team’s scorers.

The pace of the game was unrelenting in the second period though Hoods extra success from beyond the arc saw them convert four more trebles, the last one on the buzzer which hit the ring bounced in the air, dropped back onto the ring , slewed around it and dropped in giving Hoods a 47-42 at the interval. Magnificent defence from both teams was complemented by excellent team work as both Head Coaches swapped players in and out with pace and as part of their strategies. It was like a chess game with the crowd enthralled and appreciative. A full house at Rivermead hasn’t seen such a tight tussle where neither team could get a decisive run together as the biggest runs for Rockets was a 5-0 whilst Hoods was a 7-0 right before the break.

Such intensity continued in the third quarter which Rockets took 19-11 giving them a slight advantage of 61-58 going into the fourth and final period. Two of Hoods guards , Vickers and Campbell troubled Rockets more in this quarter as Mo Williams and Meshack Lufile traded inside scores. The game was tied on thirteen occasions showing just how close these teams are and this top league is this season whilst the game itself went down to the wire.

With just 58 seconds left on the clock Rockets trailed 74-77 but scored inside to get within a single point of Hoods and a possible game winning score. But as they were in team foul trouble had to foul Hoods and hope the player would fail from the free throw line. They didn’t so held a slender 3 point advantage at 79-76 but then Rockets hit what they thought was a score equalling treble only to have the shot ruled a 2 point one so still trailed 79-78 with9 seconds left. Hoods were again secure from the penalty stripe to be 3 up with 6.4 secs left but Rockets possession. A treble effort went up on the buzzer but it didn’t drop so Hoods continued their winning unbeaten streak.

Great game. Packed arena. Most competitive of games. Great advert for basketball at the highest level in England.