READING Rockets were beaten 95-85 by Division Two side Milton Keynes Breakers in the NBL National Cup final in Manchester on Sunday.
The main difference between the sides in a closely-contested game was MK’s Jordan Spencer who racked up an incredible 34 points, along with 11 assists.
The Division 1 high-fliers led for portions of the first half as both teams traded blows, but a 14-4 run heading into half-time, plus a commanding third quarter, would leave Reading with a lot of work to do.
The three-times cup winners did manage to reduce their deficit to four points in the final quarter, which saw guard Mitch Clarke score 15 points but they were unable to stop Breakers captain Spencer. His 48 per cent efficiency was an incredible effort across a performance rightly etched into the NBL National Cup’s history books.
MK, in only their second year as a senior team, maybe a Division 2 club at present, but they are certainly of top Division 1 quality, which they showed by beating Loughborough, Worthing and Derby to reach basketball’s showpiece event.
After a lively start, both teams took the lead in the early stages, but the Rockets were ahead at 24-19 at the end of the first period.
The game continued with its ebb-and-flow nature, but it was becoming crystal clear that Spencer would have a huge influence on the game, much to the growing delight of more than 400 Breakers supporters.
Fouled five times, he totted up free-throw points to swing things in his side’s favour, and MK were 42-35 at the halfway stage of an absorbing contest.
The first points of the second half fell the way of Reading, and they cut the lead to just two points, only for the team in red and white stripes to move back in front by eight points, and they moved out to 16 points at 65-49 with Spencer’s dominant run continuing.
This left the Rockets a lot of work to do in the final quarter, and they started the brighter of the two sides, reducing their deficit to five points, only for the Breakers to score two more points.
Rockets trailed by six heading into the final four minutes of action, but what could’ve been a nerve-racking ending was the complete opposite as the Breakers saw the clash out in style as Spencer capped off his man-of-the-match performance with five successful free throws in the closing stages to secure a 95-85 victory.
Zack Powell scored 21 points for the Rockets, one more than Clarke, while there were 12 for Elijah Maynard and Christian Alexander, and captain Lewis Champion contributed 10.
This coming Saturday, fourth-placed Rockets (8-2) return to league action away to Bradford Dragons (5-8).