READING ROCKETS held their nerve to beat a determined Essex Rebels team in a gripping KitKing Trophy quarter-final tie.
Rebels hit the court confident, but Mitch Clarke taking a charge, Finleigh Porter making a slam dunk and the returning Taylan Rowe stroking the first of his four trebles soon saw the hosts hit back and take a comfortable 31-19 lead at the first break.
Reading Rockets v Essex Rebels Pictures: Luke Simcock
Zack Powell received an assist from Porter to slam home and see Rockets 15 points ahead within two minutes of the restart.
Christain Alexander enjoyed a customary slam for the 6’8 forward before he got back quickly to pull off a big rejection as Rebels threatened.
Rockets finished the second period strongly as Porter made a three point play, Rowe hit a treble and Lewis Champion drove to score, giving Rockets a half time lead of 56-42.
Powell extended the lead to 20 points but another 7-0 run including a brace of trebles by Rebels saw Rockets with just a 76-63 going into the last quarter.
Porter enjoyed a dunk and three point play whilst Powell took down a big defensive rebound and Elijah Maynard made a pair of lay-ups.
Champion led the team by example and thoroughly deserved the Player of the Match award before an adoring crowd who enjoyed seeing Rockets extend their KitKing Trophy journey to the semi-final.