Rockets’ Men’s First Team clinched the league title with a comprehensive 88-61 victory against Nottingham Hoods at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday night.
The team extended their unbeaten streak to 20-0 and are just two games away from an undefeated regular season campaign.
Coach Gayle’s side went into the game on the back of a crucial win at Worcester Wolves the weekend prior to set up the opportunity to win the league at our final home game of the regular season.
This was to be the final regular season home fixture for Birmingham basketball icon Michael Gayle who announced his plans to retire at the end of this season.
Despite their league record, 1-17 going into the game, Nottingham Trent have run a number of teams close this season and looked strong offensively early on – matching Rockets in the early exchanges.
Ron Oberia took off for one of his signature dunks in the first and Michael Gayle looked to go out with a bang with a strong shooting performance as Rockets began to impose themsevles on proceedings.
The first ended with Rockets holding a slim three point advantage with the scores set at 19-16.
Nathan Ramsdale-Owen and Sam Toluwase soon turned the tide as we demonstrated our offensive quality at the beginning of the second, with Coach Gayle’s side beginning to turn up the intensity as they started to impose themselves on proceedings.
One instance being a thrilling reverse dunk from Toluwase that received a thunderous reaction from a packed out Rockets crowd.
A 23 to 12 spell in Rockets’ favour opened up a sizeable gap and put us in control as we approached half time.
The second ended 42-28 as we took a 14 point lead into the interval.
Strong defensive displays defined the second half with Luke Okosieme making some vital blocks to keep Nottingham at arms length, while Martyn Gayle and Ron Oberia both recorded three steals as our quality began to shine through.
Rockets looked to shoot from beyond the arc more frequently and with a three point percentage of 44% it proved a viable strategy at Nottingham struggled to keep pace.
The third ended 62-47, with Rockets holding a healthy 15 point lead and looking relatively comfortable going into the championship quarter.
Ron Oberia took flight for yet another dunk in a clinical performance that saw him put up 21 points and lead the game in scoring.
It was strong offensive quarter as we put up 26 points to Nottingham Trent’s 14.
Rockets won 88-61 and were crowned NBL Division 2 North Champions with two regular season games remaining.
The celebrations that followed paid testament to the hard work that the players and staff have put in to win the division in the quest to bring high level basketball back to the city.
Michael Gayle lifted the trophy to a raucous reception from a packed Nechells Wellbeing Centre – a fitting conclusion to his illustrious basketball career.
With no game this weekend, our champions face trips to Bristol to face Bristol Basketball United and Bristol Flyers II before our playoff campaign gets underway on 8th April – tickets are going fast, click here to get yours now!