Reading, who themselves were on a three-game losing streak, are one of the longest established teams in the English game boasting a list of honours that Chris Mellor’s men can only dream of at this point in time. Alan Keane, who is in his first season as head coach of the club, having been an assistant since 2016, has maintained a strong nucleus of a team, which includes long serving club captain, Danny Carter.
Bradford’s only lead of the game came after just ten seconds, when Jermayne Laing was fouled in the act of shooting. However, Laing could only convert one of his two free throws, giving his side just a single point lead. The scores were levelled, once again from the free throw line, thirty seconds later when AJ Carr also sank one from two. However, Carr followed through with the next two scores, a two-point layup followed by a three-point jump shot, to give the Rockets a five-point advantage.
Four minutes in, the game was tied at eight a piece when Rihards Šulcs scored with a layup, whilst also drawing a foul and converting from the line for the extra point. But, first Carr and then David Chive scored to build up a seven-point home advantage.
Rafi Saipe reduced the deficit to five and then Šulcs repeated his previous pattern to pull back to a two-point ball-game; however, by the time the opening period drew to a close the Rockets were six points to the good (21-15), that being despite Šulcs having the final say with a two-point jump shot.
It was all one-way traffic in the second period, with the Rockets widening their advantage to 17 points within two-and-a-half minutes of the restart and with Bradford yet to add to their tally. By the time the buzzer announced the half time interval, the Dragons were down by twenty-six (54-28).
Any hope of a Dragons’ revival was whitewashed in the final quarter, with the hosts bringing up the ton, whilst restricting Bradford to a mere seven points in the final ten minutes. Bradford faced a long drive home, following their heaviest defeat of the season (100-60).
Rafi Saipe clocked up the high score for the Dragons, making a personal tally of 17 points. Šulcs followed close behind with 16 points, whilst Fetske and Allie Fullah also hit double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Reading’s Carr took the game high with 28 points and Chive also contributed 18 points to the winning total.
Dragons’ head coach, Chris Mellor made no excuses for his team, merely stating, “It was a very poor performance and we need to regroup quickly for some big upcoming games.”
Those games start this coming weekend, with the Dragons facing a vital home double-header against sides in and around the relegation fight. On Saturday (6:15pm) the Dragons face Hemel Storm, who currently sit just one position and two points behind Bradford. A win for Hemel would see them leap-frog Bradford, a scenario that Mellor’s men can ill afford.
Advance tickets for both games are available via the Dragons’ website.
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography.