Garces warns defence to shape up after Manc defeat
Manchester Magic 93 Reading Rockets 88
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.