Rockets fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of Bradford Dragons in a tense encounter at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday evening.
Coach Nuno’s side sat 10th on a record of 4-8 going into what would be a tough game against a physically strong Dragons side. Our visitors came into the game sat in 8th place in the NBL on a record of 6-8.
The first quarter started with an Orlan Jackman layup as he drove through contact for two early on.
Bradford tied the game, but Ben Tew looked dangerous in the post as his hook shot put Rockets back in the lead.
The opening minutes were very tight with both sides looking strong on defense.
Jayden Grewal looked to be Rockets livewire as his drives through traffic and playmaking caused Bradford problems. He threaded a no-look pass that was finished by Ben Tew.
As the quarter went on Rockets looked dangerous as we showed great ball movement on offense and were shooting well from three.
However, Bradford battled back and emerged from the game with a slim 1 point lead as the quarter ended 17-16.
The second quarter started in exciting fashion as Ron Oberia stole the ball and took flight to throw down a thunderous two handed dunk.
Rockets looked strong in the offensive paint as we battled for second chance points.
Nathan Ramsdale-Owen lifted the home crowd with two long-range threes either side of a Sam Toluwase dunk.
It was then the turn of Martyn Gayle to show off his shooting from beyond the arc, he looked clinical from three.
In similar fashion to the first quarter, Bradford battled alongside Rockets and a late flurry from the Dragons gave them a slim 1 point lead going into half time. Rockets trailed 40-39 at the break.
Rockets came out after half time looking to turn the tides. Jackman started the second half well with a tough layup through traffic followed by a three.
It was a quiet start to the third quarter with both sides missing chances and turning over the ball.
Jayden Grewal found joy driving to the basket as Rockets went back and forth with Bradford.
Ron Oberia once again lifted the Nechells crowd, this time at the other end with a huge block off a Bradford fast break.
The third ended with Rockets trailing by 5,54-49, a promising end to the quarter kept Rockets in the game and gave them all to do in the final ten minutes.
The final quarter started with Bradford hitting a three, Ron Oberia took the ball outside the arc and replied with one of his own.
Grewal and Gayle caused problems on offense, Grewal’s drives, and Gayle three point shooting caused issues for the Bradford defense.
Both teams had unforced turnovers as the game neither side managed to pull away and build a lead.
Martyn Gayle’s three point shooting kept Coach Nuno’s side in touching distance of Bradford and with 2 minutes of the game to go, we trailed by just three points.
Rockets gave it their all in the closing stages but couldn’t find a way past a tough and resolute Bradford side.
Rockets fell by 2 after a Karl Teesdale buzzer beater cut the deficit, Coach Nuno’s side saw defeat 74-72.
Rockets’ highlight performance came from Martyn Gayle who’s 18 points and 6 made-threes led the game in scoring.