BRADFORD Dragons’ dismal start to 2019 continued with a 40-point annihilation (100-60) at Reading Rockets.

The defeat leaves them precariously positioned just above the relegation spots in the National Basketball League First Division.

They now face a vital home double-header against sides in and around the drop zone. On Saturday (6.15pm) the Dragons host Hemel Storm, who currently sit just one position and two points behind them.

Then, on Sunday (4.15pm), Leicester Warriors provide the opposition in the Dragons’ Den. Leicester have pulled a few good results together in recent weeks and currently sit four points above Bradford.

Reading, who themselves were on a three-game losing streak, are one of the longest established teams in the English game.

Alan Keane, who is in his first season as head coach of the club, has maintained a strong nucleus, which includes long-serving club captain Danny Carter.

Bradford’s only lead 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.

The scores were levelled, once again from the free throw line, when AJ Carr also sank one from two.

However, Carr followed through with the next two scores, a two-point lay-up followed by a three-point jump shot.

Four minutes in, the game was tied at eight apiece when Rihards Šulcs scored with a lay-up, while also drawing a foul and converting from the line for the extra point.

But, 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, the Rockets were 21-15 up by the end of the first period, 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 ending 54-28 up.

Bradford’s American power-forward Ricky Fetske sank an early three-pointer after the break and the third quarter proved to be the visitors' best period, reducing the gap to 73-53 by the end of the penultimate session.

Any hope of a Dragons’ revival was whitewashed in the final quarter, with the hosts bringing up the ton and inflicting Bradford's heaviest defeat of the season.

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.

Dragons’ head coach Chris Mellor said: “It was a very poor performance and we need to regroup quickly for some big upcoming games.”

It could be a make or break weekend for Mellor’s men, who must target two wins from the weekend’s fixtures.

Advance tickets for both games are available via the Dragons’ website.