READING Rockets will hope to avoid an upset when they travel to Hemel Storm in the NBL Division One play-off semi finals on Saturday evening (7pm).

Rockets battled past sixth seeds Bradford Dragons 89-78 to set up the trip to Storm, who stunned second favourites Team Kestrel Solents 87-77 in their quarter final last weekend.

Manuel Pena Garces’ men will play Storm for the third time this season having secured a 95-94 home victory, but losing 88-81 in Hertfordshire.

Storm are currently the National Cup champions and despite finishing in seventh position with a 12-12 record, they have one of the best rosters in the league and will be buoyed by the quarter-final upset against Team Solent.

Peña Garcés was pleased to progress with last Sunday’s 10th consecutive win, but was not overly happy with the performance.

He said: “Our performance against Bradford wasn’t the best of the season and we found ourselves in some difficult moments, but huge credit to the players who really fought hard and ground out the crucial win.

“With Scotty (Hendricks) being unable to play the fourth quarter and a number of players in foul trouble we managed to navigate our way into a winning position and made some much better decisions in the final part of the game and really exploited a very good Bradford team.”

He continued: “We must perform better if we are to beat Hemel this weekend. Reflection and learning has been done and this week is solely focused on us continuing to be better as well as thoroughly preparing for one of the deepest teams in the league.

“Our game plan must be water-tight, our intent and communication exceptional in as many moments as possible, and our execution on point and this is what we have been striving for in our practices.

“It is a huge game and one we cannot wait to play.”

Rockets go into this Saturday’s “win or go home” game with the news American guard Scotty Hendricks has suffered a broken hand and looks set to miss the rest of the season.

Peña Garcés will hope that void can be filled as he recalls Under 18 duo Iñigo Perez Baena and Adrian Nosa Castillo to the line up with the Spaniard looking to Declan Soukup to once again step up after his 26 points 10 rebounds outing last weekend.