The Dragons have no injury worries for this weekend’s game, although head coach, Chris Mellor, is still a couple of players short of having a full squad at his disposal, as he awaits the arrival of his two Americans during the next couple of weeks.
Bradford have already qualified for the quarter final stages of both the National Trophy and the National Cup, which Mellor considers to be a "great effort," considering that they are still growing as a team and are missing two players.
Mellor said, “Reading have been one of the major forces in division one over the past number of years, having won countless pieces of silverware. We’ve had some great games against each other, the semi-final heartbreaker in last season’s playoffs being the most recent.”
“They are coached and owned by two people that I have a lot of respect for, in Manuel Garces and Gary Johnson, who always conduct themselves, win or lose, in the right way and never make excuses.”
“For us, we are glad to have progressed in both cup competitions, but the serious business starts now as we look forward to the league campaign. It’s a long road ahead, between now and next April and their will undoubtedly be many ups and downs. We will, as always, just try to play hard, play together, have fun, stay healthy and see where it takes us”
Having lost the services of last season’s star player, Australian Josh Wilcher, who has now stepped up to the British Basketball league with Plymouth Raiders, the Reading squad has undergone significant transformation for this term. They bowed out of this seasons National Trophy last weekend, having recorded just 2 wins and 4 losses in the round robin stages.
Reading coach, Manuel Pena Garces said, “I am disappointed not to have made the quarter finals of the National Trophy but my team gave everything on Saturday and it was a great effort. We had chances to win the game and this has been the theme of our season ... we have been close in nearly every game.”
“This weekend is another difficult one for us and it will depend on who we have fit as to how we approach the game. Bradford are a very good, well coached team and will provide a stern first test for us as we look to defend our league title.”
Rockets go into this weekend's double header weekend with quite a few injury concerns. Both Captain Danny Carter (calf) and Spanish point guard Adria Baiget (back) missed Saturday's loss to Hemel Storm and will both face late fitness tests prior to Saturday's match-up. New British forward Joel Keeble has also picked up an injury to his arm, but should be available for selection after treatment. The Berkshire outfit will once again be looking to American duo Alex Zurn and Deion Turman, as well as the very influential contributions from point guard Sergi Guardia and shooting guard Matt Davis, as the Reading team begin the search for their third league title in as many years.
In addition to the main event on Saturday, there will also be a medal presentation, at half-time, to the Yorkshire under 15 boys’ squad, who recently won the annual Regional Development Tournament, which was held in Leeds at the end of September. The squad, which included four players from the Dragons junior ranks, was coached by Mellor’s assistant, Samuel Messam.
Messam said, “It has been an absolute honour to work with such a talented group of young players and to win the Regional Development Tournament was the icing on the cake. I am thrilled that the Dragons have chosen to support the region in honouring the under 15’s regional squad, by hosting the medal presentation. The hard work, commitment and effort demonstrated by the squad is equal to the standing ovation that I am sure they will receive on Saturday night.”
The game, and presentation will also be attended by both the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford. The Dragons are also pleased to welcome, as Master of Ceremonies, Mr Basketball himself, Mike Shaft. Former lead basketball commentator for Sky Sports, Shaft will present his famous play-by-play commentary throughout the game on Saturday evening.
The game tips off at 6:15pm at Bradford College Sports Hall, Trinity Road, Bradford, BD5 0JE. Tickets can be purchased on the doors at £5 adults, £2.50 concessions, and £10 for a family (2 adults, 2 children).