EBL Division 1 Reading Rockets 60 BA London Leopards 80
Saturday 31st March 2012 Rivermead Leisure Complex Tip 6.30 pm
In their last home league game of the season Rockets had the task that had eluded every other team in the league for the last 4 months....to defeat the London Leopards who were on a 16 - 0 winning streak and seeking the league title for the first time in their history.
Leopards’ shooting prowess was evident in the early minutes after Rockets had opened the scoring with a trademark drive and finish from Lewis Champion as they hit three point shots. Both defences were fighting for supremacy from the tip though the spectators witnessed nine 3 point plays in the first period with Leopards’ Buchberger scoring 16 personal points as they took a 28 - 13 lead to the first break. Champion and Lukas Aleksandravicius were prominent scorers for Rockets with Harrison Gamble taking down a treble of defensive rebounds.
The second period saw Rockets draw it 15 points each with Champion scoring 9 of them but Buchberger added another 6 points to his personal tally for Leopards. Aleksandravicius took a huge offensive rebound to keep up Rockets’ momentum as Robbie Parker hit his only three of the night. A pair of drives and superb passes from Champion and Ryan Lohfink saw Sam Simon and Champion score as Rockets’ tighter defence caused a 24 second violation by Leopards and kept them within reach and still 15 points adrift at the half time interval. The league’s top scorers Krubally and Teel were playing second fiddle to Buchberger who had amassed 21 points of the 43 - 28 lead.
An awesome third quarter which Rockets won 18 -13 gave the Rockets’ supporters hope and reason for much noise as they cut the deficit to just 7 points. Rockets’ captain Lohfink started the period with an offensive rebound and a lay-up to get Rockets on their way with a mesmerising drive from Champion being one of the highlights of this most entertaining of quarters, Simon took down four rebounds as Parker spun for 2 points moments before hitting a fade away shot another two. Unfortunately Rockets found themselves in team foul trouble so Leopards benefited with free throws as moments of anxiety appeared in the Leopards’ supporters and bench. However a pair of three point plays saw them recover to still lead 56 -46 going into the final quarter.
A big three pointer from Aleksandravicius saw the lead back to single figures again but Leopards capitalised from the charity stripe as Rockets were called for 12 fouls to Leopards one in a 12 minute period. Simon and Lohfink kept the Rockets’ score increasing as Aleksandravicius drove and spun in another quality play. Rockets’ two young point guards kept the scoring going but a 9- 0 final scoring streak by Leopards saw them take the win and the league title, deservedly so.
The final score was Rockets 60 - Leopards 80 with Champion again outstanding with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists with Aleksandravicius scoring 14 points and taking down 4 rebounds. Parker was the only other Rocket in double figures but Simon had 8 rebounds.