Rockets blast into National Cup Final – Reading Today Online

Reis Pinnock of Reading Rockets. Reading Rockets VS Essex Rebels in NBL Cup Semi-Finals.

READING ROCKETS inflicted just a second defeat of the season on Essex Rebels as they qualified for the National Cup Final.

From a double digit deficit in the opening quarter and without the experienced captain Lewis Champion, a full to overflowing Loddon Valley witnessed a great comeback as Rockets soared to the final of the most prestigious cup competition in English basketball.

Top of the table Rebels with only one league defeat this season, were quick out of the blocks stroking three trebles whilst Rockets couldn’t sink anything beyond the arc but a trademark charge taken by Reis Pinnock and a pair of free throws at the end of the period saw Rockets trail 16-24.

Reading Rockets v Essex Rebels Pictures: Luke Simcock

However a 8-0 run early in the second quarter saw the Rockets right back in the fight for victory. Elijah Maynard and Fin Porter kept Rockets a couple of points adrift of the league leaders whilst Jermiah Jenkins hit the first of his eight trebles complimented with Pinnock stroking one too before the interval. Rebels hit the last four points to go the locker room 45-41 ahead.

Rockets turned up the pressure in the third period and took it 27-24 getting even closer at 68-69 thanks to Mitch Clark increasing his influence and Jenkins stroking trebles from way ‘downtown’, keeping Rockets close to Rebels and with Rockets even taking the lead at 56-54

Turnovers were costing Rockets but the team dynamic increased as the loud and expressive supporters made themselves heard at The Valley. A brace of late Jenkins trebles saw Rockets 68-69 down as the final session began.

A further pair of Jenkins trebles saw Rockets 86-80 ahead but back came Rebels to tie the game on 86 each with two minutes, 31 seconds remaining.

Zack Powell drove to edge Rockets ahead before both teams missed opportunities to score and with just one minute, six seconds left Chris Alexander scored inside to give Rockets a four point advantage.

Rebels hit a jump shot to come within one shot of victory but a couple of steals by Clarke from which he was fouled saw him extend Rockets lead from the free throw line back to four and effectively seal the well deserved victory.

Rockets will play Milton Keynes Breaks in Manchester on Sunday, January 21.

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