ORTHING Thunder Basketball Club’s first competitive outing of the season ended in a 84-56 defeat as they lost at Reading Rockets in the National Trophy on Saturday evening at the Rivermead.
In what was a repeat of last season’s EBL Division One play-off final, Thunder kept pace with their opponents for the majority of the encounter but they unfortunately suffered by losing the final ten minutes 29-5, which gave the home side the victory by a 28-point margin.
There were some positives for the visitors though, as Tom Ward yet again impressed with 14 points and seven rebounds, whilst Max Richardson also put in a respectable haul of eight rebounds and five points.
Thunder coach Dan Hildreth admitted it wasn’t their day and he said: “There were good points and bad points but we weren’t able to play at our best level.
“I’m pleased that we were able to compete for 35 minutes against a well-drilled side and I think if we had played our best basketball we would have won the match.
“We didn’t play to our ability level and it wasn’t a good shooting day for us.
“I’m confident with a few more games and our full squad available we won’t be a million miles off the pace.”
Reading’s new captain Danny Carter was the pick of the home side’s players as he scored 18 points with 12 rebounds.
Thunder started the match well as they began to exert a level of control over the Rockets, and they managed to edge ahead to lead by four going into the second quarter.
In a topsy-turvy quarter that set the tone for the rest of the match, Reading managed to up their game and they came from behind to lead 37-30 at the break.
With the match tentatively poised, the third period was always going to be the crucial one and crucially the home side kept their lead in tact, although good work from Thunder had reduced the deficit to just four.
However, the final quarter of the match was one to forget for Hildreth’s men as the Rockets ran rampant, and the visitors’ meagre total of only five points ensured they suffered the same result to that of the play-off final five months previous.
Thunder have the chance to bounce back on Saturday as they embark on the long journey to face Manchester Magic, and Hildreth admitted he isn’t sure what to expect on Saturday night.
He said: “Manchester are a bit of an unknown but we do know they are going to be well-disciplined.