READING Rockets (9-6) will be looking to bounce back from their two previous NBL Division One losses when they take on Essex Leopards (8-8) on Sunday afternoon at the Essex Sports Arena (2pm).

Rockets suffered their heaviest defeat of the season last weekend, losing 89-63 to a rejuvenated Leicester Warriors (6-11), nearly three weeks after their last league game when they were beaten by Worthing Thunder (13-4) 84-67.

Reading head coach Alan Keane was disappointed with his team’s performance last weekend, but is ready for what is to come and has challenged his players to be better in certain areas.

He said: “Last Sunday’s performance was unacceptable from us and it was evident from watching the game back and reviewing that we did not commit everything we needed to.

"It was a good lesson for us in what categorically must be better and this is what we will look to address this week in practice.

"I have been really pleased with how we have been training, but we must now lift the barrier to transfer this onto the game floor.”

He continued: “This weekend we face an in-form Essex team who have some really good pieces to their roster.

"Sam Newman and Lee Hodges are two excellent English talents and despite the loss of Luke Mascall-Wright, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

"We will need to learn from our previous two encounters as well as commit to everything we do to ensure a positive performance and in turn result this Sunday."

The meeting between Rockets and Leopards will be their third of the season with this weekend’s hosts coming out on top in both encounters, winning their National Trophy clash 85-69 before recording a hard-fought league win in Reading in late December 101-90.

Having won five out of their last six games, Leopards are one of the in-form teams in the division as they look to bolster their play-off spot for the post season.

Rockets still have injury problems with point guard Adrian O’Sullivan and Under 18 Sam Grant both still on the sidelines with ankle injuries.

O’Sullivan has been out of action for four weeks and it is hoped he will return to action in the next 10 days.

Grant also has a major ankle sprain and looks set for an extended period off the court with the club’s physio team yet to be able to treat the 16-year-old's injury. Captain Danny Carter made it through another game with no additional concerns to his ongoing back injury, while Ronan O’Sullivan made his comeback last weekend and is set to feature again alongside new signing Tanner Kuehn who will make his away debut for the Berkshire club.

The 6ft 7in American-born 25-year-old joins the Berkshire outfit to boost their front court, with the former Purdue Northwest University graduate saying: "I’m excited for this opportunity to play in Reading with a team which is a proven winner.

"I want to come in and make an impact in whatever way I can to help the team win games.

"The team has a lot of talented players and I believe we can make some noise this last part of the season."

He added: "Rockets are a very team-oriented organisation which is nice to see at this level. The coaching and staff is top notch and bring the best out of each other. I’m very excited for the remainder of the season."

Chairman Gary Johnson was delighted to add Kuehn to the roster, commenting: "We were thrilled to have an approach from Tanner, who was looking to start his professional basketball career in the UK and we were pleased we have been able to bring him to Reading.

"Having learnt his craft back in the United States and having a British passport meant we were very interested and after some video conversations back and forth, I was really pleased he accepted our offer and has subsequently joined us.

"I am delighted he is now with us especially in our hour of need and he has been straight to work including doing extra sessions with our academy guys to get up to scratch and ready to go immediately.”

Rockets currently lie in sixth place in the NBL Division One table and will be working hard over the coming weeks to secure a top four spot and home advantage in the post-season play-offs.