A ten-point run to start the fourth quarter gave the Rockets too big a margin to overturn at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday night as Team Birmingham Elite claimed an opening night victory.
In a fiercely competitive game, the Rockets opened up a commanding early lead before our visitors fought back to claim a lead of their own.
Michael Gayle got the Rockets off to a perfect start with an early three before some strong interior play from Mike Thiep saw the Rockets build a commanding lead early on.
Team Birmingham Elite proved deadly from deep throughout and slowly chipped away at the Rockets’ early advantage with a late flurry of three-pointers to bring the game back to within four at the first quarter break.
Team Birmingham started the second as they had finished the first, with strong offensive plays which the Rockets struggled to replicate at the other end.
Mike Thiep scored the Rockets’ only points of the second as our visitors threatened to pull away as the half wore on.
Contentious calls against the Rockets saw us enter the penalty early into the second half but Team Birmingham failed to fully capitalise on this opportunity as the Rockets rear-guard did what it could to stem the flow.
A revitalised Rockets side made back-to-back threes courtesy of Faaris Mughal and Michael Gayle to start the second half, bringing the crowd to its feet as we drew level midway through the third.
The Rockets dominated from beyond the arc throughout the third quarter with Team Birmingham Elite forced into numerous early fouls as they also struggled to contain a resurgent Rockets side.
A late Team Birmingham Elite three would hand our visitors a narrow advantage heading into the final quarter, with the scores at 50-47 in favour of our visitors.
Team Birmingham Elite would go on a 10-point run without reply to start the final quarter, leaving the Rockets with a lot to do as the game etched towards its climax.
Despite a couple of late threats to spark an unlikely comeback, Team Birmingham Elite held on to condemn the Rockets defeat in our league opener.
Our next home fixture will once again be against Team Birmingham Elite, this time in NBL Cup action, with tickets available here: https://www.cobrockets.co.uk/product/city-of-birmingham-rockets-vs-team-birmingham-elite-sunday-10th-october-2021-430pm/