The Malta Independent 25 May 2019, Saturday

Basketball, BOV League Play Offs, Men Div. I: Athleta draw first blood

Willie Vassallo Thursday, 11 April 2019, 22:43 Last update: about 2 months ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Starlites GIG     71     Gzira Athleta     82

(18-17, 19-11, 14-24, 20-30)

Athleta made the first step. towards a place into the final, as they had the better of Starlites, in a close fought encounter, which only turned into Athleta's way in the final minutes. Actually, Athleta took time to settle down, but Starlites didn't apply any killer touches, and Athleta could stay in contention. There was a period of play, when Starlites opened up an advantage, befoire the interval, b ut Athleta recovered after the break, and then broke through when it mattered.

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The opening stages were in Athleta's favour, as they twice held leads. Starlites overturned the score, and two quick triples, by American, Jordan Stotts and Alec Felice Pace, put them in the driving seat. Athleta laboured to regain their advantage, with Americans, Julio Guity and Connell Crossland, buckets, but Starlites managed to keep their noses in front, till the end of the session. There were a flurry of points, at the start of the next period, as Athleta forged in front, and twice held off their adversaries. Then the shooting died down for a while, as both sides were failing their shots. Starlites were the first to recover, and an 11-2 run, beginning with another American, William Darley, triple, opened up a useful advantage. A brace of Athleta hoops brought them nearer, but till the end of the session it was Stotts who put in a couple of baskets, to send Starlites into a 37-28 halftime advantage.

Starlites netted an early bucket, after the break, but their momentum was jolted, as Athleta began to get to grips with the match. They managed an 11-2 run, as Nathan Xuereb sank a triple. Starlites' American, Cameron Ward's free shots stopped them, but Athleta were high, with two more treys, by Xuereb and American. Vincent Pace, although Darlet put in one for Starlites. Athleta grabbed a lead, and Starlites went close, but didn't overtake, and Athleta were just ahead, at 52-51, going into the last quarter. Athleta surged forward, but were twice held back, with a brace of Ward triples, as he tied the score. Athleta persisted, and a three-basket spread had them regaining their advantage. Starlites tried to bridge the gap, but Athleta held on, and Matthew Gouder, instrumental in their recovery, netted a couple of buckets, as his side went into a double figure advantage. Starlites were facing uphill, but they still fought for every ball. Stotts made another triple, but time was running out on them, and Athleta coolly made their free shots as Starlites tried to stop the clock.

This opening victory leaves Athleta with just another win, to move into the final. The next game is on, for next Sunday.

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 13, N. Formosa 4, R. Bonnici, I. Felice Pace, C. Ward 13, M. Falzon, M. Scerri, R. Carabott, W. Darley14, J. Stotts 27

Athleta: N. Vasovic 4, C. Crossland21, P. Shoults 2, L. Stefanovic, A. Perunicic, N. Xuereb 8, M. Goude11, V. Pace23, J. Guity 13

Referees: B. Vassallo, T. Mantere, Z. Dobrosavljevic 

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