Reading Rockets

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Reading Rockets
Reading Rockets logo
League EBL Division 1
Established 1997
History Reading Rockets
Arena Rivermead Leisure Complex
(Capacity: 650)[1]
Location Reading, Berkshire
Team colours

Black, White, Red

Head coach Manuel Pena Garces
Ownership Gary Johnson
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Home jersey
Kit shorts whitesides.png
Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours

Reading Rockets is a basketball club based in the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. Currently, Reading Rockets play in the English Basketball League Division 1.

The club has squads ranging from developing Under-12s to the Division 1 senior men's side, and coaching staff regularly visit local schools and run satellite clubs as part of the Community Rockets scheme.[2] The club applied to join the British Basketball League as a member franchise for the 2012–13 season but was unsuccessful.[3]



The Reading Rockets were formed in 1997[4] by the current owner Gary Johnson and played in Division 3 of the then NBL. They won promotion at the first attempt, and in the reorganisation of 2000 the National Basketball League replaced Division 1 with the eight-team NBL Conference as the second-tier after the BBL. Subsequently, Division 2 became Division 1 where the Rockets found themselves.

The Rockets remained in Division 1 for just one season, finishing second, and beating Oxford in the Championship Final, thus winning promotion to the NBL Conference after four years in the league. In the 2001/02 season they finished seventh in the NBL Conference. In the following season, the Rockets continued their rise, finishing in third place within the NBL Conference.

In 2003, the National Basketball League was rebranded as the English Basketball League, and once again was restructured with a new format, with Rockets finishing in second place in the new EBL Division 1. In the following season they finished third and have been League runners-up to Worthing Thunder in both the 2005/06 & 2006/07 seasons. In 2006/07 the team were sponsored by the Atlantis Group and became known as the Atlantis Reading Rockets.

2007/08 season[edit]

In 2008 they came close to winning the League title, beating Manchester Magic in the final game of the season, to draw level at the top, but losing out to on points difference in the head-to-head. Rockets are back-to-back National Trophy winners beating Worthing Thunder in the final in Manchester (84–68).[5] Rockets win their final match of the season but were not able to win by the seven-point margin required to give them the illusive League Championship title. Adam Kelly make his last ever home appearance for Rockets.[6] Danny Carter also enjoyed his last home game before a stint in an American College basketball.[7] Rockets were edged out by Manchester Magic who won the Play-off Championship Final at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield. Following the game Head Coach David Titmuss presented Adam Kelly with the match ball as a mark of respect and gratitude for his contribution to the club. Assistant coach Matt Johnson was full of praise for the departing captain: "Adam epitomises everything about the Rockets ethos. He is a dedicated individual who has shown an unbelievable amount of commitment over the last 10 years. This season has been one of his best and he will be impossible to replace".[8]

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • English Players of the Year (Under 18 Men) – Daniel McKay. London-born Daniel McKay has quickly risen up the ranks for both England and his national league club, the Reading Rockets. As a Reading Rocket, McKay has rightfully earned his place in the men’s first division team where he has been a key component to Dave Titmuss’ Trophy winning side.

2008/09 season[edit]

Reading Rockets re-wrote the history books during 2008/09 with a perfect season as they won 36 straight games to retain the National Trophy and win Division One, the playoffs and the National Cup.[9] The only team to come close in modern years were the Sheffield Arrows team of 2004/05, who missed out on the quadruple when they lost the National Cup final by a single point against Rockets, though they did lose one of their 22 league games.[10] Dave Titmuss resigned from the club before the start of the 2009/10 season.

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Tin-Tin Watts was voted as the league's top player in 2008/09. Tin-Tin’ proved to be one of the most versatile and athletic players in the EBL this season, averaging over 18 points per game including an impressive 45% shooting average from behind the arc.
  • Dave Titmuss was selected as the Coach of the Year for the season. Coach Dave Titmuss was the ringleader for this season’s only perfect senior EBL team.

2009/10 season[edit]

Dave Titmuss quit the Rockets to take over as head coach at Worthing Thunder in June 2009, insisting that the prospect of coaching in the country's top-flight league once again was too hard to turn down.[11] Rockets also were without the services of several players from the previous season, EBL Player of the Year Tin Tin Watts left to join Manchester Magic, Richard Wellings left to join London United whilst Walid Mumuni joined the new BBL team of Essex Pirates. Rockets had expected Tyrell Smith to return for the season but issues with his work permit prevented this happening.

Rockets secured the services of a new coach, Sasa Punosevac, the Serbian had spent four years coaching in Ireland's SuperLeague while he also spent a season with the Ireland women's national basketball team.[12]

Rockets strange start to the season continued with the arrival, and departure of American Banks Estridge. Signed as a replacement for Tyrell Smith, the American trained with the squad on Monday, but two days later told the club he was returning home.[13]

Over the winter period more turmoil for the Rockets when the cash-hit club were forced to dispense with the services of head coach Sasa Punosevac after just four months in charge. Chairman Gary Johnson expressed his gratitude to Punosevac for the positive impact he made in his short spell at the club.[14][15] Assistant coach Matt Johnson, one of the most qualified coaches in the country, was to take over for the rest of the season.

Rockets crashed out of the National Cup, the Trophy (which they had won for the previous three years) and finished the league season in 7th place. Securing a play-off place against old rivals Manchester Magic.

During the season Rockets achievements, from last year were recognised, At the 2009 Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards the male team of the year award went to Reading Rockets who won every single game last season and as a result collected four national trophies. In addition the International Sports Personality of the Year was presented to Reading Rockets American Ryan Lohfink.[16]

2010/11 season[edit]

Rockets appoint Samit Nuruzade as the club's new head coach.[17][18] Nuruzade was born and educated in Azerbaijan but has been playing and coaching in the UK for 10 years. His principal involvement has been with youth programmes and player development at England's biggest club, Greater Manchester Youth.

Rockets crashed out of the National Cup at the 3rd round stage to EBL Division 2 high-fliers London United at Harfield Academy.[19] This was Reading's first National Cup tie of the season, having received a bye in the previous two rounds, the latter being at the expense of Portsmouth City Smugglers, who could not raise a team.

Rockets' run of success in the National Trophy continued as they win the competition, for the fourth time in five years, beating Leeds Carnegie in the final held in Manchester. Rockets repeated their National Trophy final victory against Leeds Carnegie to collect their second playoff title in three years.[20]

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Niko Scott was selected as Division 1 Men's Player of the Year.[21] In his first EBL season, American guard Scott averaged an EBL third-best 20.7 points per game (on 46% shooting) while helping Rockets win the 2011 Men's National Trophy and Division 1 playoff final.
  • Samit Nuruzade was chosen as the Division 1 Men's Coach of the Year.[22]

2011/12 season[edit]

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Rebecca Lear was selected as Division 2 Women(Midlands-South West)player of the year
  • Matthew Johnson won the award for Division 4 Men(South) Coach of the year

2012/13 season[edit]

The season as a whole was very up and down with lots of personnel changes and injuries. The Rockets won their first 16 league games even though at times they were short of players. Down to eight guys at times carrying the team through. Rockets' run of success in the National Trophy and the National Cup did not materialise during the season. Leaving the National Cup at the semi final stage having lost away to Bristol Academy Flyers. Whilst failing to qualify for the quarter finals of the National Trophy. This left the Rockets' able to concentrate on securing the EBL Division One title.

Rockets were crowned EBL Division One Champions (22–4). The Rockets secured the league title to win only their second Division One title in their history. Having defeated Leicester in the quarter-finals of the Post Season competition the Rockets headed to their seventh Division 1 Men's Playoff Final after they defeated Essex Leopards in overtime 75–70. The result of the other semi-final resulted in the old rivals Worthing Thunder emerging as the Rockets opponents. Worthing Thunder were the hottest D1 Men's team heading into the postseason, having pulled themselves out of a relegation place into the Playoffs with eleven straight wins. The Rockets overwhelmed the Final Four favourite Worthing Thunder by 31 points with a magnificent team performance to win 88–57. Thunder were outplayed by Rockets in every department. Lewis Champion picked up the Most Valued Player award and Luke Nelson signed off his Rockets career by scoring 21 points.

Ryan Lohfink left the club after 5 seasons to take up a University of Salford Scholarship to study for a master's degree in International Business. Ryan will be playing for the newly promoted Manchester Magic team during the 2013/14 season.

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Luke Nelson was selected as the youngest ever player to pick up the English Basketball League Division One player of the year. Luke played two seasons with the Rockets, both Under 18 and Senior Men's, and he has earned a full scholarship with University of California Irvine in America starting in September.
  • Becky Lear, Rockets' leading scorer, become Div. 2 (Midlands South East) Player of the Year for the second year running.
  • Samit Nuruzade awarded Coach of the Year for Division 1 Men by
  • Director of Coaching, Matt Johnson, won the Coach of the Year Award at the inaugural Berkshire Inspiration and Participation awards.

2013/14 season[edit]

Rockets appoint Manuel Pena Garces as Head Coach following the departure of Samit Nuruzade after three successful years of involvement at the end of the 2012/13 season.[23] During his time at the club, Nuruzade led Rockets to a National Trophy victory and two end-of-season play-off championships. Amongst the highlights, though, was doing the double last season, winning the Division One title and play-offs.

Reading Rockets won their first National Cup since 2009 and their third overall as they defeated Newham Neptunes 93-72 at the University of Worcester Arena. Rockets poured in 35 first quarter points (to Neptunes’ 21) and maintained control from then on to seal one of the only titles that evaded them last season. Spaniard Gabriel Diaz-Morera captured MVP honours for his 29-point, 12 rebound performance. He added 4 assists, 2 steals and went 3/5 from outside the arc.

In February Reading Rockets added their second major title of the season after they defeated Manchester Magic 88-71 to win the 2014 Men's National Trophy final. Gabriel Diaz-Morera added another MVP trophy for Reading as well, as the Spanish guard reeled off 25 points (60% shooting) and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes.

In March the Senior Ladies Team won the EBL Div 2 (Midlands South West) League and progressed to the semi finals of the play-offs for the first time in the club's history.

The Rockets secured the EBL Div 1 (Men's) league title to win the first back-to-back Division One titles in the club's history.

In the final game of the season Rockets were edged out in the Play-off final by Leeds Carnegie 65-71. Nonetheless this has been a magnificent season for Rockets who’ve won the treble but just couldn’t secure the quadruple to emulate the team from 2008/09.

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Josh Wilcher was selected as the English Basketball League Division One player of the year with an average of 21.3 points per game. Including season high of 34 points against Medway Park Crusaders, in April, and Manchester Magic in March. Josh left the Rockets at the end of the season to play in the fully professional BBL (British Basketball League)with PLymouth Raiders.
  • Catherine Lutz, become Div. 2 (Midlands South East) Player of the Year. A senior Rockets player winning this award for the third year running. The British/American guard joined Reading's Ladies team at the start of this season and averaged 26.9 points per game in her first season in the UK. Including a season high of 53 points against Bristol Storm in December.

2014/15 season[edit]

Rockets' were unable to repeat their previous successes in the National Trophy and the National Cup during the season. Finishing as runners-up in the National Cup having lost to Manchester Magic in the final at EIS Sheffield. Whilst failing to qualify for the quarter finals of the National Trophy.

The Rockets secured 6th place in NBL Div 1 (Men's) league but were eliminated from the play-offs at the quarter final stage losing 63-61 to Kent Crusaders.

2015/16 season[edit]

Honours for Rockets' players & staff

  • Catherine Lutz, was voted NBL Women South West player of the year.
  • Josh Thorne was voted as NBL Women South West coach of the year.

2016/17 season[edit]

Home arenas[edit]

Rivermead Leisure Complex (1997–present)

Season-by-season records[edit]

Season Division Position Played Won Lost Points Play-offs National
Reading Rockets Senior Men
2016–2017 NBL Div1 3rd 26 20 6 40 Quarter-finals DNQ Quarter-finals
2015–2016 NBL Div1 3rd 26 19 7 38 Runners-up Runners-up Quarter-finals
2014–2015 NBL Div1 6th 24 15 9 30 Quarter-finals DNQ Runners-up
2013–2014 EBL Div1 1st 26 22 4 44 Runners-up Winners Winners
2012–2013 EBL Div1 1st 26 22 4 44 Winners DNQ Semi-finals
2011–2012 EBL Div1 7th 24 14 10 28 Quarter-finals Semi-finals Semi-finals
2010–2011 EBL Div1 3rd 18 12 6 24 Winners Winners 3rd Round
2009–2010 EBL Div1 7th 22 12 10 24 Quarter-finals Semi-finals Quarter-finals
2008–2009 EBL Div1 1st 18 18 0 36 Winners Winners Winners
2007–2008 EBL Div1 2nd 18 16 2 32 Runners-up Winners Semi-finals
2006–2007 EBL Div1 2nd 22 19 3 38 Semi-finals Winners Semi-finals
2005–2006 EBL Div1 2nd 26 22 4 44 Winners Semi-finals Runners-up
2004–2005 EBL Div1 3rd 22 16 6 32 Runners-up DNQ Winners
2003–2004 EBL Div1 2nd 22 17 5 34 Semi-finals DNQ Quarter-finals
2002–2003 NBL Conf 3rd 22 16 6 32 Runners-up Quarter-finals
2001–2002 NBL Conf 7th 18 7 11 14 Quarter-finals DNQ
2000–2001 NBL Div1 2nd 18 14 4 28 Winners DNQ
1999–2000 NBL Div2 5th 24 17 7 34 Semi-finals DNQ
1998–1999 NBL Div2 4th 24 17 7 34 Quarter-finals DNQ
1997–1998 NBL Div3 3rd 26 12 14 24 Quarter-finals DNQ
Season Division Position Played Won Lost Points Play-offs National
Reading Rockets Senior Women
2016–2017 WNBL 1 8th 20 6 14 12 Quarter-finals Quarter-finals
2015–2016 South West 1st 16 15 1 28 Runners-up Runners-up
2014–2015 Midlands South West 3rd 14 11 3 22 Quarter-finals Semi Finals 2nd Round
2013–2014 EBL Div2
(Women Midlands South East)
1st 14 13 1 26 Semi-finals Semi-finals 2nd Round
2012–2013 EBL Div2
(Women Midlands South East)
2nd 16 12 4 24 Quarter-finals Quarter-finals 2nd Round
2011–2012 EBL Div2
(Women Midlands South West)
2nd 12 9 3 18 Quarter-finals Semi-finals 1st Round
2010–2011 EBL Div2
(Women Midlands South West)
5th 14 5 9 10 DNQ 1st Round 1st Round
2006–2007 EBL Div2
(Women South)
6th 20 9 11 18
2005–2006 EBL Div2
(Women South)
2nd 21 14 7 28
  • DNQ denotes Did Not Qualify.



  • EBL Division 1 Winners: 2008/2009, 2012/13, 2013/14 3
  • EBL Division 1 Runners Up: 2005/06, 2006/07 & 2007/08 3
  • EBL Division 2 (Women) Winners: 2013/14 1
  • EBL Division 2 (Women) Runners Up: 2005/06, 2011/12 & 2012/13 3
  • NBL Women's League (South West) Winners: 2015/16 1


  • EBL Division 1 Play Off Champions: 2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11 & 2012/13 4


  • National Trophy Winners: 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11 & 2013/14 5


  • National Cup Winners: 2004/05, 2008/09 & 2013/14 3


Current rosters[edit]

The following information is established according to the official websites of the team (

Reading Rockets roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. Age
G 4 United States Ponder, Craig 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) 186 lb (84 kg)
PG 5 Spain Valerio, Juan 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in) 25 – (1991-12-01)1 December 1991
F 6 England Keeble, Joel Injured 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) 190 lb (86 kg) 23 – (1994-03-18)18 March 1994
G 7 Bulgaria Jardim, Paulin 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) 192 lb (87 kg) 20 – (1996-07-10)10 July 1996
G 8 England Rana, Ganesh Bikram Injured 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
F 9 Spain Gomez Enterria, Fidel 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) 202 lb (92 kg) 18 – (1999-05-03)3 May 1999
F 10 Spain Jassey Demba, Ebrima 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) 19 – (1998-01-31)31 January 1998
F 11 United States Hooper, Chris 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) 240 lb (110 kg) 25 – (1991-12-24)24 December 1991
12 England Goodyear, Tom
F 13 England Carter, Danny (C) 2.05 m (6 ft 9 in) 231 lb (105 kg) 28 – (1988-09-30)30 September 1988
G 14 England Sbai, Ali 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 19 – (1997-11-09)9 November 1997
Head coach
  • Spain Manuel Pena Garces
Assistant coach(es)
  • Alan Keane
Team manager
  • United Kingdom Sam Johnson
  • United Kingdom Neil Dawson

  • (C) Team captain
  • Injured Injured

Updated: 2017-02-06

Reading Rockets Ladies roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht.
PG 5 Spain Gadea, Carmen 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
G 8 Spain Gomez, Andrea 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
F 9 Italy Olosho, Diana 1.61 m (5 ft 3 in)
SF 10 Spain Abreu, Paloma 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
F 11 England Anderson, Elsa 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
SG 13 Spain Milan, Sara 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
C 14 Germany Delow, Maike 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
G 15 Germany England Arguile, Katia 1.50 m (4 ft 11 in)
Spain Lanzas, Belen
Chazey, Danielle
England Ashford, Emily
Head coach

  • (C) Team captain
  • Injured Injured

Updated: 2016-09-01

Head coaches[edit]

Name From To Regular Season Play-offs Notes
Dave Titmuss 2005/06 2008/09 75 9 9 2 National Trophy Winners (3)
EBL Division 1 Play-off Champions (2)
National Cup Winners (1)
EBL Division 1 Winners (1)
Sasa Punosevac 2009/10 2009/10 3 3
Matt Johnson 2009/10 2009/10 9 7 1
Samit Nuruzade 2010/11 2012/13 48 20 6 1 National Trophy Winners (1)
EBL Division 1 Play-off Champions (2)
EBL Division 1 Winners (1)
Manuel Pena Garces 2013/14 To date 74 26 4 4 National Cup Winners (1)
National Trophy Winners (1)
EBL Division 1 Winners (1)

Notable former players[edit]

  • United States E.J. Harrison
  • United Kingdom Adam Kelly
  • United States Ted Smith
  • United States Tyrell Smith
  • United Kingdom David Watts
  • United States Niko Scott
  • United States Ryan Lohfink[24]
  • United Kingdom Luke Nelson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reading Rockets fail in bid to go up a league because of Rivermead seating". Reading GetReading. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "History of Reading Rockets Basketball Club". Reading Rockets. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Reading Rockets apply to join British Basketball League". getReading. 2012. Retrieved 30 February 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Company details". UK Data. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Reading Rockets 84 Worthing Thunder 68". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Captain marvellous calls time out after 10 glorious seasons". getsurrey. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Overseas dates for Carter and McKay". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Captain marvellous calls time out after 10 glorious seasons". getsurrey. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Reading Rockets Speak About Future". England Basketball. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Going for Glory – Unbeaten Reading Rockets". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Dave Titmuss quits Reading Rockets for rivals". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Rockets announce their new Head Coach". Reading Rockets. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Reading Rockets' new American signing goes back home". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Reading Rockets release coach Sasa Punosevac". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  15. ^ "Breaking NEWS – Coach Punosevac leaves". Reading Rockets. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  16. ^ "2009 Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards". Reading Post. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  17. ^ "Reading Rockets appoint new coach Samit Nuruzade". BBC News. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  18. ^ "English basketball club appoints Azerbaijani coach". News.Az. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "Thrilling National Cup tie – London United 99 v Reading Rockets 96". Reading Rockets. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  20. ^ "Reading Rockets beat Leeds Carnegie in EBL play-offs". BBC News. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "'s EBL awards 2011". England Basketball. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "EBL senior Players, Coaches of the Year". England Basketball. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  23. ^ "Head coach Nuruzade leaves Reading Rockets". Reading Chronicle. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "Ryan Lohfink Leaves Rockets after 5 years". 25 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 

External links[edit]