The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Basketball, BOV Men's Amateur League: Gzira Athleta crowned Champions, retain title won last season

Tuesday, 22 May 2018, 09:29 Last update: about 7 months ago

Depiro     75     Gzira Athleta     89

(23-26, 28-20, 12-25, 12-18)

It was a long road, with nine teams in this category. Athleta managed to hold on to the title they won last season, making it four times that they won this second-tier title, after previous victories in 1976 1nd 1984. They won their third final, after overcoming a determined Depiro attempt, to take the series into a fourth encounter. Depiro had matched their opponents and were ahead at the halfway stage. They also increased their advantage, after the interval, but Athleta embarked on a solid run, as Luca Stefanovic found his scoring touch. Depiro still managed to tie the score, at teh start of the last quarter, but Athleta were not to be denied, and another positive run had them opening up a winning advantage, to take to the final buzzer. Depiro recovered their American, Jack Nygaard, but had to make do without Kurt Xuereb, who arrived late, due to a personal event.

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Stefanovic netted an early triple, for Athleta, with Depiro overturning the score, with a Matthew Borg trey. Then followed others, by Nygaard and Borg again, as Depiro established an advantage. There were still more triples, in teh opening session, with Nygaard and Adam Chomo, for Depiro, and replies from Athleta's Nathan Xuereb and Albert Serra. Depiro's late lead was wiped off, as Athleta's last points had them ahead. In the second period Borg sank a third trey, but Depiro were still in arrears, but Nicholas Grech also netted a triple, to put his side in front. Xuereb put in his second trey, for Athleta, but the lead they obtained, through free shots, was nullified, as Depiro managed an 8-1 run. At the interval Depiro had increased their lead slightly, when Miguel Brincat sank a trey, for a 51-46 high score.

After the break Depiro went further in front, with Chomo hoops, but Athleta struck back strongly. A heavy 19-2 run, started by consecutive Stefanovic points, and also Serra hoops, swept Athletain front. Depiro's efforts had Athleta answering back, and they were 71-63 ahead. In the last session Depiro started off well, making up the necessary points, to draw level, but they were jolted once more, as athleta produced another solid 13-2 run, with Stefanovic and Serra contributions. Brincat nailed a second trey for Depiro, but time had wound down, and Depiro's last efforts, to stop the clock, only resulted in Athleta's players putting in their free throws, to enhance their lead further, and claim the league title once more.

After the match came the presentations, with the BOV Chief Officer, Peter Perotti, along with the MBA general secretary, Joseph Muscat, presenting the medals to the Athleta players. The MVP award went to their Spanish player, Albert Serra, and skipper, Joshua Aquilina, who was playing his last match, after a long career in basketball, received the league trophy.

The honours in this division were shared out, with Balkan Fusion winning the Shiled, Depiro then won the K.O., and Athleta finished off the season, with the league title.

Depiro: E. Briffa, A. Attard, N. Grech, J. Camilleri, A. Chomo, K. Xuereb, M. Borg, M. Zloh, M. Brincat, J. Nygaard, M. Debattista, J. Vibe

Athleta: K. Schembri, F. Mifsud Bonnici, C. Puccia, A. Serra, L. Stefanovic, M. Gauci Montaldo, N. Xuereb, J. Aquilina, J. Caruana, S. Vincic, J. Ransley, M. Cilia

Referees: E. Mangaini, N. Azzopardi, V. Nikolic

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