AASE students propel Rockets in Ludaspelen tournament
As the New Year was welcomed in Reading Rockets U18's were travelling to Lundaspelen 2011 Basketball Tournament in Lund, Sweden. The tournament has been in existence for over 30 years and takes place every year between the 2nd and 5th of January. The tournament plays host to over 300 teams in age categories starting from U11 to U20 for males and females. Although the tournament is represented mostly by Danish and Swedish teams there were also large contingents from Germany and Holland as well as teams as far afield as Slovakia and Canada.
The Boys U18 tournament had one of the largest fields with 37 teams in 9 groups taking part. Due to the size of the competition the games are shortened to 30 minutes with 2 running clock 15 minute halves. Rockets landed in Group 2 alongside Falcon I (Denmark), Hogsbo Basket (Sweden) and ESAA II (Denmark). Rockets took a strong 10 man squad with them to the tournament featuring 6 of its AASE students as well as a total of 8 Academy students from The Henley College and Reading College. In what turned out to be a "group of death" Rockets acquitted themselves admirably finishing 2nd in the group moving on to the A playoffs to challenge for the top honours in the competition.
After a surprise 25-18 victory against Hogsbo Basket on day one with standout performances from AASE students Kalvin Anns and Charles Johnson, the team moved on to the 2nd day of competition full of confidence. The team narrowly lost out to Falcon I 22-29 in an intensely competitive game with another AASE student Lewis Champion showing some great moments offensively. There was no time to dwell on this loss however as the team had to prepare for the next game against ESAA II. In a convincing performance Rockets won their last group game 42-24 going on a 19-3 run at the end of the game sealing victory and 2nd place in the group thanks to points difference. Propelled by its defence in the last game, particularly AASE student Bradley Loxton and Kareem McKenzie, Rockets moved onto the knockout stages to face Danish Club SISU.
The game against SISU started well for Rockets with both teams going toe to toe and some good shooting from Milan Miladinov helped Rockets stay in the game. With SISU switching their defence in the 2nd half Rockets could not break them down. Even though this was the case they showed their spirit defensively with another AASE student Ibrahim Allie showing his defensive ability. Rockets however were unable to break SISU down and lost 39-26. SISU went on to win the tournament beating another Danish club Hjemly in the final 50-17. Rockets themselves finished with the best defensive record of the tournament conceding the fewest points per game.
The trip was a great success for the club highlighting its flourishing AASE and Academy programmes in particular. The team received compliments from everyone around the tournament for its play and behaviour.