December saw our winning streak come to an end. Rocks fans knew January would provide us with a real test. A BBL Cup final, a trophy game against Riders and two important games against London. So how did we get on?
First up was a home trophy game against Leicester Riders, whom we had beaten previously at home this season. The Rocks were without Kieron Achara and had a lead of six in a close-fought game. The Riders edged ahead in a low-scoring opening period before the Rocks fired in 31 points in the second, though Riders remained ahead. The lead changed hands throughout the third, but it was the Rocks who gained control to move ahead by the most slender of margins. Leicester made their move with an 8-0 start to the fourth quarter over the course of four minutes to leave the Rocks playing catch-up and they ultimately fell short as Riders closed out the win. Hayden Lescault impressed in his 23-point haul, while Neil Watson scored 20 points in a full 40-minute display.
Our attention then turned to the BBL Cup Final against Newcastle Eagles. Would this finally be our year? Neil Watson made a hot start with two triples in a 10-0 start for the Rocks before Fletcher got the Eagles going with seven points to close within a point. Another triple from Watson followed as the duel continued with both players up to nine points by the end of the first with the Rocks up by one. The Eagles went on a 13-1 run as Fletcher moved to 15 points to help the Eagles open up a nine-point gap. The advantage doubled as Newcastle closed the half with a 10-0 run including a corner three from Drew Lasker and a pull-up triple from Deondre Parks before the buzzer. Gareth Murray netted back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third, but the Eagles went on another run to further increase their lead with Scott Martin making it a 20-point game. Parks ended the third with another triple to make it 72-49 with the Eagles already seemingly out of reach.
However, the Rocks did not give up and mounted a determined late surge with Watson moving to 28 points as the gap was cut to just seven points in the final minute. The damage had been done and Newcastle were able to celebrate a historic success. Neil Watson top scored for the Rocks with 28 points while both Achara and Murray netted 15 points.
With the league now the Rock’s priority, attention turned to our game against the London Lion at the Copperbox. Rocks have always had the better of the Lions in the last couple of seasons. Lewis Thomas hit back-to-back triples to put the Rocks up 12-19 in the first, but the home side closed the gap to two by the end of the first. The lead peaked in the second on a 9-0 run for the visitors to make it 24-33, but the Lions finished the quarter well once again as they began to mount a comeback. Taylor scored 6 early points in the third before an 8-0 run put the Lions ahead, and they maintained a slender advantage ahead of the final 10 minutes. Glasgow levelled with the first score of the fourth period, but a trio of triples gave the hosts the upper-hand. Taylor hit a huge three to make it 68-63 inside the final two minutes, and although Watson answered, Taylor nailed a pair of free throws which proved to be enough for the win. Two technical fouls and therefore an ejection from the game for Gareth Murray placed extra strain on the Rocks bench. The Rocks were paced by Neil Watson’s 25 points, while Achara finished with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Giants were the next opponents for the Rocks. After losing three games in a row I think many fans felt this game had come at a good time. You should never expect to beat any team, but if you had to pick…! The Rocks set the tone early and quickly established a double-digit advantage at 16-6 in the opening period. The gap hit 19 points in the second as Achara scored all of his side’s points in an 8-0 burst. Manchester responded with a 10-2 run, but would still find themselves trailing by 15 at the half-time break. Glasgow’s advantage reached 20 points midway through the third but another rally from the Giants raised hopes of a comeback by cutting the lead down to 11 with a strong close. A triple to start the fourth made further inroads into the deficit, but that was as close as they would come with Glasgow quickly doubling their lead as they proceeded to close out the win. Kieron Achara led the way with a 24-point haul with Lewis Thomas and Neil Watson adding 16 and 13 points respectively. Gareth Murray appeared to pick up an injury and did not play in the second half.
The final game in January came at home to the London Lions. A particularly important game in order to keep the head to head alive. It was a low scoring first quarter with around 2 minutes gone before the first basket was made. With only 5 minutes left in the first quarter the score was 7 – 6 to the Rocks and by the end of the quarter the Rocks had the lead by just 2 points. A second period melt down from the Rocks saw Lions head into the half time break ahead by 9 points, with the score 28 – 37. The team re-grouped at the half and slowly chipped away at the Lions lead during the 3rd quarter. With only 35 seconds left in the quarter Neil Watson netted a free throw to tie the game 52-52. The 4th quarter saw the Rocks take control of the game and thanks to three 3 pointers in a row (2 from Watson and 1 from Achara) the Rocks were now ahead by 7 points with just under 4 minutes remaining. The team managed to hold onto the lead and won the game 78-70, keeping the head to head with London alive. Neil Watson top scored with 28 points and 6 assists while both Lewis Thomas and Kieron Achara netted 15 points each and both had 7 rebounds.
2 wins in a row = a winning streak! Let’s keep it going…
Vote for January’s player of the month below!
Who Is Your Player of the Month for January 2017?
- Neil Watson (32%, 42 Votes)
- Lewis Thomas (16%, 21 Votes)
- Gareth Murray (11%, 14 Votes)
- Hayden Lescault (11%, 14 Votes)
- Jonny Bunyan (11%, 14 Votes)
- Kieron Achara (10%, 13 Votes)
- Anthony Elechi (9%, 12 Votes)
- Bantu Burroughs (0%, 0 Votes)
- Yves-Jonathon Ndongala (0%, 0 Votes)
- Boris Matrakov (0%, 0 Votes)
- Lee Reilly (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 130