The Reading Rockets finally lifted the curtain on the new National League season with a convincing 95-78 win over local rivals Worthing Thunder in the KitKing Trophy at Loddon Valley.
After an eventful preseason which saw the Rockets welcome some new faces and build momentum, they were eager to start the season the right way.
Elijah Maynard led the scoring for the Rockets with 20 points, giving the crowd a look at things to come from the new American.
Reading Rockets v Worthing Thunder Pictures: Luke Simcock
Maynard said: “We just keep building on this, never be satisfied, we started the season good with this win but keep building and getting better every day.”
The game would start slow from both sides, with dunks from Maynard and new big man Christian Alexander the only points in the first four minutes of the game for the home team.
Back to back three pointers from Lewis Champion saw the Rockets take a seven point lead before American debutant Taylan Rowe hit back to back three’s from the bench extending the Rockets lead to 10.
The Rockets ended the first quarter in style as Alexander almost brought the basket down with a big two handed slam in the final seconds giving the home team a 28-16 lead.
Elijah and Taylan continued their fine form leading into the second quarter as they both hit early three’s extending the Rockets lead to 19.
The second quarter would slow in tempo, with Worthing doing the majority of scoring with Hafeez Adbul scoring 10 points, before Elijah got the crowd going with a poster on Tom Ward.
Australian Mitch Clarke finished the half with an open three ball after finding himself in space, giving the Rockets a 51-36 lead heading into the second period.
Early fouls from Clarke, Maynard and Finleigh Porter at the start of the third quarter were surely not on coach Samits team talk during the half time break, resulting in him making early substitutions including a debut to young JMA academy player Jacob Spurrier.
The third came alive at the fifth minute, when the General ,as the fans have fondly dubbed him, Zack Powell finished off a two point lay up before Taylan stole the ball from the Worthing inbound, handing off to Zack for the four point play.
Zack would continue his scoring, adding another six points to his tally in the quarter.
Thunder’s Hafeez Adbul would help keep his team in the game during the third but couldn’t do enough to peg back the 19 point lead the Rockets had formed, ending the third comfortably 71-52.
Any signs of a Worthing comeback would be shut down by Mitch Clarke midway through the final period, as he fired back to back triples, taking the Rockets lead to 21 points.
Zack would claim the game MVP behind an impressive near triple double performance of 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The Rockets now look ahead to next weekend, where they take on Sussex Bears on the road before returning to Loddon Valley, on Sunday in their final group stage game against Barking Abbey.