READING Rockets (20-3) have a huge weekend in front of them as they face title rivals Team Northumbria (20-3) on Saturday (6pm) and Loughborough Student Riders (12-10) the following day (5pm) at Rivermead Leisure Complex.
Rockets extended their NBL Division One winning streak to an incredible 19 games last weekend as they defeated Worthing Thunder 110-78 on Saturday – in a game where American star Craig Ponder (pictured) scored a magnificent 36 points – before downing London Lituanica 86-73.
They will be eyeing revenge against Northumbria as one of Rockets’ three losses came at their hands, an 87-75 reverse at the beginning of November.
If both teams finish with the same record their head-to-head results come into play, although if Rockets win their remaining three games this will not matter.
However, with the Reading outfit finishing their campaign away to Manchester Magic (19-4), who also remain in the mix, this may be a big factor in the final standings.
Rockets head coach Manuel Peña Garcés was very pleased to see his team come through a tough weekend, and said: “We are really happy because our performances were better and we had to make some adaptions in the game against Lituanica.
“They did really well stopping us and it was important for us to make some changes which we did with great commitment and showed good character to win the game. That pleases me heading into the final three games of the regular season.”
He continued: “This week will be huge for us and one we are really excited about, but will prepare for as normal.
“We need to recover some injuries and rest some players whilst making sure we keep working on our defence and our game plan against Northumbria. They have been magnificent this season and Marc (Steutel, Team Northumbria head coach) has done a fantastic job with his group.
“I know they will be thoroughly prepared to face us and will throw everything they have in order to win the game and the league. It promises to be a great advertisement for Division One and we will be working hard this week and on Saturday to try and get the win we so badly want.
“We have put ourselves in a great position and I am so proud of my players for everything they are doing. I really hope this weekend we can show what we are about and create a little bit of history in what is an exciting period for the club.”
Rockets have a number of injury concerns, with Joel Keeble (wrist), Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez (ankle), Bikram Rana (ankle) and Under 19 Ibu Jassey Demba (hand) potentially out of the weekend’s action.