Hemel Storm pulled off the biggest upset of the basketball season so far as they ended Reading Rockets’ unbeaten run with an 86-65 victory in a National Trophy game on Sunday – ending the hosts’ 10-game winning streak.
Hemel’s defensive pressure and slick offence in the fourth quarter extended their 58-54 third quarter edge to 69-56 after five minutes and, following four technical fouls awarded against Reading’s multi-talented squad, they controlled the tempo and flow of the final minutes to seal the win.
Hemel’s guard combination of Bode Adeluola and Nik Rhodes hit 21 points each and the visitors’ tireless team defensive effort restricted Rockets’ American imports D’Montre Edwards and Antonio Robinson to 10 and 13 points respectively.
They also held the home team’s American trained captain, 6ft 9ins centre Danny Carter, to five points in 22 minutes on court.
“For three-quarters of the game we created good shots and made a high percentage of them,” said a delighted Hemel coach Dave Titmuss.
“And we’re gradually finding our defensive identity and working out a pattern of substitutions that allows us to stay aggressive at both ends of the floor.
“In my opinion Reading has potentially the most talented roster in the country and their winning streak is a testament to their outstanding players and head coach Manuel Pena-Garces. I don’t see them losing many games this year.”
The previous day Storm secured their first National League Division One victory of the season as they led from start to finish to win 69-49 in a defence-dominated game against Kent Crusaders in Gillingham.
Storm endured a poor shooting night but stuck to the task and, with Titmuss using some new player combinations, they took a 40-23 lead into the changing room at half-time.
Hemel kept their noses in front in an even second half and eventually put the result beyond doubt with two three-pointers from Carl Josey and another from Adeluola.
“We didn’t adjust well to how they played us defensively,” said Titmuss. “But to an extent I wasn’t surprised because we’re still developing our team play systems and need more time to be fully prepared.
“We got the win and I was able to look at some different combinations so it was valuable from that point of view.”
Tom Adorian top scored for Storm with 15 points and eight rebounds, with Adeluola and Josey adding 12 points each. Walid Mumuni netted 10 points and Nik Rhodes bagged eight.
Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace this Saturday at 7pm against Leicester Warriors in a National League Division One game. Tickets and information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net