Reading Rockets 105 v 112 Essex Rebels
In a game where Rockets started slowly and finding themselves 14 points in arrears, they recovered magnificently with a last minute gasp to win it in normal time, but went down on the first overtime game they’ve had all season.
The very experienced Sam Toluwase got Rockets scoring before Rebels hit the first of their trebles coupled to a pair of free throws before Reis Pinnock drove to score and Kivuvu Live sent an assist to Toluwase. Rebels found themselves at the penalty stripe on too many occasions and were very successful from there adding to Rockets’ frustrations. A Toluwase coast to coast cut the deficit but Rockets made a couple of turnovers from which Rebels scored leaving Rockets a double digit distance behind behind at 12-22. Ben Dixon took a charge and made a pair of interceptions but Rockets failed to capitalise. Chuck Duru finished with a floater but Rockets had been defended too well to have even put up a treble effort until the last 2 minutes when they missed one but Jaz Bains stroked a buzzer beater to see Rockets at the first break 21-28 adrift.
Rebels scored off their first two offences to extend their lead before they hit another treble to lead 35-23. A Dixon tip in followed by an assist to Live to lay up and a Bains stop gave Rockets encouragement. O’Showen Williams came to the party in a big way with a long two and an audacious treble seeing Rockets just 34-37 down midway through the second period. Rockets missed a treble effort and turned the ball over as Rebels went on a 6-0 run to open the gap again. Despite a Bains assist to Williams to hit a treble and Dixon drive and score drawing the foul and adding the bonus point Rebels still went on to have a 14 point lead at 48-34 as the interval approached where the score was 52-42 in Rebels favour. Rockets had only led for 6 seconds and needed Head Coach Alan Keane to guide his team.
And how well did they respond shooting out of the changing rooms with academy power forward Live spinning to score and then hitting a brace of free throws. Pinnock took a key and big defensive rebound and Sam Grant benefitted with a slam dunk finish. After Dixon took another charge, he drained a treble and Rockets were within a single point of Rebels at 54-55. Rebels took a time-out after the 12-3 Rockets run but still Rockets came, levelling the game on 57 and taking the lead moments later with a Pinnock finger roll. Then the scorers were busy as the game was levelled with almost every play on 59, 61, 63 and 65 before a tough call when Rockets were scoring was overturned by the officials and Rebels hit four quick points. Bains drained another treble but Rebels returned the compliment. Williams hit a treble and though Rockets won the quarter 30-27 they still found themselves 72-79 as the final period beckoned.
Williams lit up the arena with five trebles in the 29-22 quarter advantage for Rockets as Toluwase also imposed himself on the boards and inside. Rockets trailed by one at 79-80 but Rebels had a short run to lead 93-85 before Rockets fired again with a 8-0 run to tie the game on 93 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Being in team foul trouble, Rockets were sending Rebels to the free throw line for the rest of the game but a Dixon pair of free throws saw Rockets edge ahead again on 95-94. Four Rebels points were stopped with a big Toluwase slam dunk to see the score 97-98. Rebels were first to the hundred mark and had a 2 point advantage with less than 14 seconds left. Toluwase was fouled and hit both free throws to tie the game on 101 but Rebels had possession with 6.3 seconds left. Rockets made a stop and the first overtime of this much disrupted season lay ahead.
Rebels scored off their first possession as did Rockets via Dixon who was having an outstanding game, and then Toluwase had a slam to give Rockets a 105-103 lead in this 5 minute overtime period. Rockets caused Rebels into a 24 second violation but missed a treble shot. Rebels scored with their treble attempt and took the lead with just over a minute remaining. 3 from 3 from the penalty stripe saw Rebels take the win 112-105 but what an end to the league season before the Play-offs next weekend where Rockets will play Loughborough away.
Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 33 points including 8 trebles, a Rockets record. Ben Dixon hit 21 points, Sam Toluwase 18 and Sam Grant 12 .