Mystics v Rockets: Manchester Basketball Centre, 3.00pm Sunday Nov 13th. (Main image: @hccaptures)
Manchester Mystics v City of Birmingham Rockets:
16 teams remain as the Women’s National Cup knockout stages continue with the winners of this round moving on to the quarter finals next month. The Division 2 Manchester Mystics will face the City of Birmingham Rockets at the Manchester Basketball Centre this Sunday.
The Mystics, currently sitting at 2-0 in D2 Pool 1, after league wins against Manchester Valkyries (81-36) and Sheffield Elite (53-46), will be aiming to pick up where they left off in the last round where they beat the Bromsgrove Bears 61-43. The Mystics came out on top in a physical game which saw an all round team contribution with everyone on the scoresheet. Hannah Alty, Maddie Owen and Rehana Khalil all dropped 10 points apiece, while Holly Bryan, who hit a couple of big 3 pointers, added 9.
Speaking after their win against the Bears, Becky Illingworth (7 points) and Holly Bryan spoke about the importance of defence for the team moving forward: “If we’re good on defence it’ll drive our offence. We just need to stay focused, stay locked in, stay aggressive when we’re playing defence.” Illingworth agreed adding, “(Our) energy comes from defence. When we really push hard on defence then it just flows and as Holly says, you don’t need to think about the offence.”
Head Coach Alty has previously spoken about the teams goals for the season with progression through the Cup being a main one, and Captain Niamh Kelshaw is looking forward to the matchup: “As a team we are all super excited going into the cup game against a good City of Birmingham team. We’ve had a good week of practice where we’re still learning to play with one another. Even though we’re only at the start of the season we’ve had a lot of changes as a group which has only made us come together more. No matter the outcome this weekend, I’m personally really excited to see how far we go this season and what we can do! “
Due to a reshuffle of the North / South divisions becoming Pools 1-3, the Mystics and Rockets won’t face each other in D2 this season. They met twice in 2021/22 when the Mystics won both games, however this Rockets team is a new iteration and they currently top Pool 2 in D2 with a 3-0 record, winning their games with an average margin of 16.0 ppg. A double header weekend for the Rockets sees them head to Derby on Saturday to take on the 1-2 Trailblazers before making the journey to Manchester on Sunday.
Rockets Head Coach Ryan Emery is looking forward to this weekend’s game: “We’re excited, it’s another opportunity to play against a high level opponent. Manchester are a great team with some very good players. It will be a tough test for us but we are ready. I have a great team, I’m privileged to coach such great people and we are ready for the challenge and are very much looking forward to the game on Sunday.”
Emery, in his first season with the Rockets after seven years with the Worcester Wolves, has the team off to a flying start and has a wealth of experience to share with the club. Reflecting on his new role, Emery spoke highly of the culture the Rockets organisation has built: “I’m loving it, when I left Worcester I was burnt out both physically and mentally, I was unsure if I wanted to carry on coaching but when the COB opportunity came up it only took one conversation with the club and I was all in. The environment here is so positive and the club has great ambition, it was something I knew I wanted to be apart of. The club is made up of great people and I’m really enjoying coaching again. My team have really bought into how I wanted to play and there is a fantastic atmosphere at practice…we’re all enjoying the journey we’re on.”
The winner of Sunday’s game will face the winner of Anglia Ruskin v Brent Bulls, both D1 teams, in the quarter finals on December 4th.
All Manchester Mystics D2 home games are streamed live on the Manchester Magic and Mystics YouTube channel: