City of Birmingham Rockets fell to defeat in our final fixture of 2021 away at Team Birmingham Elite on Saturday evening.
Our hosts established a controlling lead early on and despite a couple of Rockets runs, Team Birmingham claimed the victory their play on the night merited.
On a positive note for Rockets, the game saw us welcome Coach Paul Douglas back after missing the last two games – but the absence of Matt Parker, Nathan Ramsdale-Owen and Jordan Dawes was undoubtedly felt as we struggled to find a level of consistency on the night.
Faaris Mughal got things going for Rockets after he converted a second-chance opportunity after being the quickest to react to his initial missed shot to give us our first and only lead of the night.
Michael Gayle hit a deep open two as Rockets looked to keep pace with Team Birmingham’s early pressure, with defensive breakdowns and strong shooting key factors in our host’s ability to pull away early on.
Despite this, Faaris would prove instrumental for Rockets early on, throwing up a perfect pass for the returning Mike Thiep to convert the alley-oop in our highlight play of the evening.
Team Birmingham were lethal offensively in the first, however, building an early lead which the Rockets were unable to chip away at as they pressed home their early advantage.
A 31-14 score line reflected the pattern of play up to that point, with the second quarter following a similar trend.
Rockets were able to put a run together to put something of a dent into our host’s lead, but Team Birmingham finished the quarter strongly – a Team Birmingham buzzer-beater to compounded Rockets’ first-half frustrations.
Our hosts came out strong again at the start of the third, but a succession of Rockets blocks tempered their offensive threat.
Mike Price’s drive from centre court gave us a lift as the vocal Rockets contingent inside The Factory began to get behind the team to great effect.
Price was crucial to the Rockets’ third-quarter offence, breezing past his man on more than one occasion whilst also proving an important asset with his rebounding as we temporarily reduced the deficit to ten.
A host of efficient offensive sets reinstated Team Birmingham’s prior advantage, before Steph Kontopyrgos’ three once again briefly stemmed the bleeding.
A 10-2 start to the fourth compounded Rockets’ frustrations, all but ending our hopes of a late revival.
Akim Nweke’s double ended the run, with his rebounding ability providing an alternative to Mike Thiep off the bench.
Team Birmingham would claim the victory on the night, with Coach Douglas’ side now switching their focus to our return after the festive break against University of Chester at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on January 8th 2022.