BRADFORD Dragons, who are uncomfortably near the relegation places, started 2016 with an 88-71 home defeat against a talented Reading Rockets squad in English Basketball League Division One.

However, the hosts, buoyed by a Jason Swaine three-pointer, went into a 7-2 lead and held the advantage until the opening minute of the first quarter, when slack passing and poor defending allowed Rockets to blast into a 27-19 advantage.

There was some good news for the Dragons in the second period though as stalwart Rihards Sulcs made his first appearance of the season following knee surgery.

While clearly not back to his best, he did show what he is capable of, but Reading increased their lead to 15 points before Bradford pulled them back to 47-37 at the interval.

The third quarter was reminiscent of the first, with the teams largely cancelling each other out until the final 90 seconds, when Reading took command to reach the final break 68-51 in front.

It took the Dragons until three minutes into the final quarter to add to their tally, by which time the Rockets had zoomed 25 points in front, Bradford clawing their way back to a 17-point defeat by the close.

Nick Moore was again the Dragons' top scorer with 24 points, Adria Rodriguez Vinas adding 14 and Ricky Fetske ten but they were overshadowed by Ben Allison's 34 points for Reading, including an impressive 75 per cent shot conversion.

Dragons’ head coach Chris Mellor said: “We made too many mistakes with the ball in our hands.

"Twenty-three points against us from turnovers is just not going to give us a chance of winning against a team with their level of talent.”

The Dragons now move down one position in the league table, following Westminster Warriors' victory over bottom team Tees Valley Mohawks, and they will now be keen to pick up a victory when Hemel Storm visit the Dragons’ Den on Saturday (6.15pm).

The scheduled National Cup quarter-final at Westminster Warriors was postponed on Sunday and will now take place on Sunday January 17.

In other news, Dragons under-18s lost 84-57 at Doncaster Danum Eagles on Saturday, whilst the under-14s went down 70-54 at York Eagles.