D1: Trailblazers defuse Rockets despite slow ignition
Derby Trailblazers 83 (14, 33, 47)
Reading Rockets 68 (16, 33, 44)
NBL Division 1
Derby Trailblazers delivered a statement of intent as they overcame a poor start against Reading Rockets to produce a convincing win over one of their fellow title challengers. The Rockets were leading 13-4 after the opening five minutes, but a Derby time-out produced a brilliant response, as the Blazers quickly fought their way back into the game.
Chris Taylor provided an immediate spark off the bench following the time-out, netting six quick points, but it was David TinTin Watts who led the team with 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.
Behind TinTin’s haul of 26 points, Dan Watts had 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block, while Taylor had 15 points and Donaldson 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Credit should also be given to George Calvey, who did a great job battling against the visitors’ big men.
Half of David Watts’ game high total for Derby came in a spectacular second quarter. Having failed to score in the first, he more than made up, as he began the second with a breath taking dunk and a three-pointer, thanks to consecutive steals from brother Dan.
A third consecutive Reading turnover led to Adria Amabilino Perez picking off a poor pass and Dan Watts again finding his brother to help TinTin start the period with seven straight points and prompt a Rockets time-out with Derby leading 21-16 and 8’35” on the clock.
Despite that impressive start to the second quarter, Derby didn’t have things all their way, as Reading’s big men dominated the next few minutes. They went on a 12-2 run, with six of the points coming from 6’9 former GB U20 international Ben Allison.
With Reading now back in front and leading 28-23, it was time for Derby to step up on offence and they did so with style. A breakaway dunk from Dan Watts was followed by another slam from TinTin, before the two sides exchanged three-pointers via their captains Danny Carter and Dan Watts respectively.
After both sides missed multiple attempts, Reading eventually called time-out, with 1’51” left before the break. However, it didn’t result in the spark they were looking for, as Derby nudged 33-31 ahead, before an Allison dunk ended the period with the two sides level at 33-all.
Head Coach Matt Shaw was delighted with the first half fight back:
“I was really proud of the way the guys performed, because despite a slow start, we hung around and eventually found a way to win against a top team. We weren’t at our best, but we battled defensively and somehow managed to go into the break with the scores tied,” he said.
“Once inside the locker room, we felt if we could hold them to 66 points overall, we would have a great shot at winning. We felt our offence would improve and that's exactly how things panned out,” he said.
The Head Coach’s optimism clearly rubbed off on his players. The third quarter got underway with three-pointers from Amabilino Perez and Dan Watts, along with six points from Sydney Donaldson, as Derby opened the period with a 16-4 run.
Somewhat surprisingly, Reading didn’t call for time-out, but never-the-less managed to respond without extra coaching intervention. Robinson scored from outside and then inside and after a three-pointer from David Watts, Edwards also converted from downtown and followed it up with a deuce to complete a 10-3 burst.
Dan Watts then made two of three at the line before another big three and a pair of free-throws from Edwards saw them cut the gap to 54-50. A bizarre looking unsportsmanlike foul on Taylor then allowed Edwards to make it a two-point game, but with no scores off the possession, that was as close as they would come.
Instead, it was Amabilino Perez who connected with a three-pointer for Derby, courtesy of TinTin Watts, who provided both the offensive rebound and the assist.
The Trailblazers then began the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from Dan Watts and a three-point play from Taylor, which helped them open up a 63-54 lead. Rockets subsequently cut the gap to five, but a rare four-point followed for David Watts resulted after he was fouled while successfully converting a triple from the corner.
The bonus point made it 69-60 with 2’46” remaining, and although Reading briefly rallied, Donaldson produced one of the plays of the game, somehow wrestling down an offensive rebound and converting the points to make it 76-68 with 1’07” remaining. A turnover from Carter then led to another three-point play for Taylor, as Derby edged towards victory.
The Rockets captain then used up his fifth foul to stop an easy score for David Watts, but it back fired, as TinTin sank both shots from the line to make it 81-68.
Reading attempted a final three-pointer, but had to foul again when Derby earned a decisive defensive rebound and TinTin returned to the line and sank another two shots to seal an impressive 83-68 victory.
“We had a couple of good runs in the second half and although they countered, we were able to make sure their spurts were less damaging than they had been earlier on,” said Shaw.
“After last weekend it was great to bounce back with a win. It's great to see us near the top of the table still, but we are still in January, so it really doesn't mean a lot. We just want to keep trying to improve and focus game to game.
“Hemel will be another tough test next weekend. Our game against them in October was an overtime thriller, so I am sure the fans will be hoping for another close and exciting game next Saturday,” he said.
The Trailblazers remain second in division one league table following the win over Reading. The game against third placed Hemel is a 7:15pm tip-off next Saturday, in the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall at Noel-Baker School.
Derby: David Watts 26, Dan Watts 18, Taylor 15, A. Amabilino Perez 10, Donaldson 10, Stanley 4, Salih 1, Calvey 0, King 0, Nelson 0, Wesselingh 0.
Reading: Carter 21, Edwards 21, Allison 10, Robinson 7, Ajumobi 6, Nicholls 3, Glass 0, Keeble 0, Yeboah 0.
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In other games, Derby U16 Boys moved to the top of the Midlands Development League after a 71-43 away win over Northants Thunder. The U18 Men also won on the road, beating Newcastle Eagles 96-82.
Elsewhere, the Men’s Development team narrowly lost out 68-66 at home to Nottingham Hoods II, while the U14 Boys Development team lost 104-41 at Leicester Warriors.
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