Match Report: Rockets Men 70-77 London Elite

City of Birmingham Rockets men suffered a 77-70 defeat to London Elite at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday evening.

Coach Nuno Rodrigues’ side went into the game looking to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment and continue what has been a largely positive maiden season in NBL Division One.

London Elite went into the game in need of a win to turn their season around after a tough start to the season saw them languishing in the lower echelons of the league standings.

The first quarter started, and the opening few minutes were close with both sides showing glimpses of their offensive talents.

The game saw the long awaited return of Orlan Jackman after a frustrating spell on the sidelines due to injury. Jackman looked dangerous in the early stages of the first quarter with his offence keeping Rockets within touching distance of London Elite.

An offensive spree from London saw them take the lead with Rockets again suffering from a slow start on the offensive end.

Coach Nuno’s side ended the first quarter trailing by 6 points, 25-19.

The second quarter started, and Rockets were chasing down London Elite’s lead.

Sam Toluwase started the quarter with two layups as he looked dangerous driving to the basket while Martyn Gayle hit back-to-back threes to reduce the deficit to just three points, 34-31.

Rockets took the lead in the final two minutes of the half after Orlan Jackman hit a midrange floater and Rockets led by 2.

Coach Nuno’s side went into half time leading 48-42 in what was a clinical quarter for Rockets.

The offensive blitz of the second was not replicated in the third quarter, however, as both teams showed good defense in the first few minutes of the second half.

Martyn Gayle and Sam Toluwase were causing London Elite problems, but our visitors refused to let the margin open to anything unassailable as they kept fighting their way back into the contest.

Martyn Gayle ended the third quarter with a three point arrow and Rockets took a healthy 8 point lead into the last 10 minutes.

The fourth quarter started strongly with a huge Orlan Jackman dunk to lift the roof off Nechells Wellbeing Centre.

However, London Elite stunned Rockets by scoring 7 points in a minute to cut the lead down to just three points. Elite had found their offensive rhythm; and Rockets were struggling to find an answer at the most critical of moments.

Coach Rodrigues’ side dropped their lead with five minutes to go and couldn’t regain it despite the best efforts of Martyn Gayle and Orlan Jackman.

With Gayle fouling out towards the end of the contest, the loss of our most potent offensive asset on the night proved terminal as Elite took advantage to put the game beyond a frustrated Rockets side.

Rockets ended the game losing by 7 points in a tough 77-70 loss.

A double-double from the returning Orlan Jackman will be encouraging for Rockets as he put up 15 points and 13 rebounds, it’ll be vital to have him back as he continues his return to full fitness.

The absence of Jordan Dawes was also felt but Rockets will feel frustrated in the manner in which this one got away – full credit to a stubborn London Elite side who kept pushing and ultimately got their reward on the night.

Rockets head to reigning champions Hemel Storm next Saturday looking to put things right before returning to Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday 16th December to face Newcastle in our final home game of 2023 – CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR TICKETS!