Garces warns de­fence to shape up after Manc de­feat

Manch­ester Magic 93 Read­ing Rock­ets 88

The Wokingham Paper - - SPORT -

MANUEL PENA GARCES says more work must be done on the Read­ing Rock­ets de­fence if they are to forge a se­ri­ous ti­tle chal­lenge.

Rock­ets now have a league record of 3-1 after their loss in Manch­ester, and their head coach is not happy with the amount of points they con­ceded in the 93-88 re­verse.

“Whilst there are pos­i­tives to take, our fo­cus needs to be on two key ar­eas,” said Pena Garces.

“Firstly, miss­ing 14 free throws is un­ac­cept­able for us so we have to be bet­ter in this area.

“Sec­ondly, we can­not give up the num­ber of points we are if we are to con­sis­tently win games.

“Work on the de­fence end is go­ing to be re­ally im­por­tant and where our fo­cus needs to be.”

The clash in the north-west was a tight af­fair through­out.

Rock­ets started well with re­turn­ing cap­tain Danny Carter tee­ing up Scotty Hen­dricks for an early tre­ble, while Ali Sbai and De­clan Soukup fol­lowed suit, only for Manch­ester to hit four tre­bles of their own.

Magic led 28-27 at the end of the first pe­riod and moved six points clear shortly into the sec­ond, but three Syd­ney Donaldson as­sists helped the visi­tors back to 48-51 be­hind at half-time.

A 10-5 run early in the third pushed Manch­ester eight points ahead, and that ex­tended to 78-68 head­ing into the fi­nal stanza as Pena Garces’ men looked like hav­ing a real up­hill strug­gle.

But Rock­ets re­grouped, forc­ing a Magic time-out after a 7-0 run. Tim Gill con­tin­ued his im­pres­sive af­ter­noon, end­ing the day with a 26-point haul, to re­duce the deficit to 83-80 mid­way through the fourth.

Read­ing were earn­ing lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties from the free throw line, but failed to cap­i­talise and whilst they brought the scores all the way back to 88-89 with 32 sec­onds to play, the hosts held on.

Rock­ets face an­other test on Sun­day when they wel­come Brad­ford Dragons (2-1) to the River­mead (5pm).

“Brad­ford are al­ways tough to play against,” said Pena Garces.

“Year in, year out coach

Chris (Mel­lor) does a great job in maximising the ta­lent he has on the floor and gets his team to be com­pet­i­tive and dif­fi­cult to beat. We know this sea­son will be no dif­fer­ent.

“They have good, young ta­lent at mul­ti­ple spots and will def­i­nitely be a hand­ful. But this is a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for us to take the next step and show an im­proved per­for­mance against one of the more es­tab­lished teams in the di­vi­sion.”

Read­ing have no new in­jury con­cerns with young­sters Alex Drin­cic, Adrian Nosa Castillo and Inigo Perez Baena all back in con­tention.

Rock­ets top scor­ers v Manch­ester: Gill 26 points, Donaldson 13, Hen­dricks 13, Carter 10.

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