The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Basketball, Men's BOV National League: Athleta make sure in the last seconds, Floriana fade away

Willie Vassallo Sunday, 25 November 2018, 20:09 Last update: about 2 years ago
Photos: Jonathan Bugeja
Photos: Jonathan Bugeja

Bupa Luxol     77     Gzira Athleta     79

(19-24, 19-27, 18-10, 21-18)

Luxol were playing after back to back victories, whilst Athleta were searching for their opening league win. Athleta led for nearly the whole match, but then fell behind in the closing stages of the encounter. They came fighting back, to grab their victory in the closing seconds, after a Luxol possession lapse. Luxol's foreign duo, Serbian, Vukasin Jandric, and Swede, William Ahlberg, had amassed the major tally of points for their side, 57 in all. Athleta also had their two americans, Vincent Pace and Carson Shanks, on high scores, but there was also Nathan Xuereb, with his double-digit score. Luxol had missing players once more, CJ Cordina, Keith Dimech and Dirk Schembri, with Marco Mercieca returning for them. Athleta were with their settled side.

Athleta had Xuereb on early raids, and with a trey, as they went 9-4 in front, only for the Violets to go level, with an Ahlberg triple. Athleta regained their advantage, with a 9-0 run, which was whittled down by Luxol. Again, Athleta increased their lead, but the violets had JP Schembri with a late session trey. In the next period it was Luxol going in front, beginning with a Jandric trey, and making an opening 8-2 run. Athleta retaliated, with a 9-0 run, to open another lead. Jandric and Ahlberg strove to make up the leeway, and even madehad Jandric with another trey, but Athleta stood firm, and also added on to their advantage, as Pace sank a triple. At the inetrval athleta were 51-38 ahead.

After the break all of Luxol's efforts to gain ground were met by an Athleta resistance, as Peter Shoults made a triple, and the lead escalated. The remainder of the session belonged to Jandric, as Luxol gnawed away at their deficit, with a session ending, 10-0 personal run, and a fourth triple. Score at 61-56. The last quarter had Carson Shanks keeping Athleta ahead, until the Violets came up with more treys, two from Ahlberg, and another by Jandric, and the score was on a par.  Athleta eked out another lead, but Luxol were adamant, and came up with a 10-1 run, mainly from Ahlberg, and with his fourth triple. There was little time left, but Athleta were back, to tie the score, and then Pace netted the winning hoop, just seconds from the end.

Luxol: V. Jandric 32, P. Englebert, L. Caruana Montaldo, JP SChembri 5, W. Ahlberg 25, M. Mercieca, F. Sekulic 7, S. Cappello 6

Athleta: M. Gauci Montaldo, P. Shoults 5, L. Stefanovic, A. Perunicic 2, N. Xuereb 17, M. Gouder 9, K. Thompson 7, V. Pace 21, I. Mitrovic, C. Shanks 18   

Referees:  B. Vassallo, T. Mantere, K. Dworniczak


Starlites GIG     92     Floriana MCP Car Parks     57

(21-17, 20-16, 30-13, 21-11)

Starlites were on a double win run, and the Greens had won their opening league encounter. It was odds on, till the interval, with Starlites in front and Floriana chasing hard, but the second part of the match saw Floriana failing to keep up the pace, and falling behind, to the extent that Starlites had already made sure of the match by the end of the third session. There was still no Greens comeback, in the remaining period, as they fell further behind, with Starlites becoming sole leaders, after three matches of play. Starlites' American connection is producing dividends, and they are coming up with some nice, high scores, in their matches.

It was Floriana with the opening points, as Shawn Pace sank his triple. Starlites made their replies, to draw level, after Pace put in a second Floriana trey. Starlites strode ahead, and their treys were going in, with American, Cameron ward, netting a trio. The Greens had David Bugeja with his hoops, and Estonian, Kevic Liivamagi, with a triple, but Ward kept Starlites with their noses in front. The second period had Starlites easing away slightly, as Americans, Drew Sears and Joe Tagarelli made their hoops, with the latter also on a trey. It was then the other American, Jordan Stotts, with his trey, and some dunks, but the Greens came back, late in the session, with Kurt Xuereb and Belgian, Gael Hulsen points, to creep nearer, on a 33-41 interval deficit.

After the break Floriana were closer still, as Pace sank a third triple, but then Starlites hit back in style, with a solid 13-0 run. Bugeja grabbed a brace of Floriana hoops, but Starlites had Tagarelli with another trey, and a session ending 9-0 run had Starlites on velvet, and a heavy 71-46 advantage. The last period did not produce any Floriana response, and Starlites just went on speeding further ahead. treys by Robert Bonnici and Nick Formosa gave the impression that a century win was near, but play started to fade away, with Floriana's David Agius making a late entry on court, and grabbing the last hoops of the match.

Starlites: O. Psaila, N. Formosa 7, R. Bonnici 3, I. Felice Pace, C. Ward 18, A. Felice Pace 2, R. Carabott 2, M. Scerri, A. Sears 16, J. Tagarelli 24, J. Stotts 20  

Floriana: S. Pace 9, D. Bugeja 16, I. Arias , S. Borg , K. Caruana , K. Liivamagi 5, C. Calleja, Ian Thiessen 5, K. Xuereb 4, G. Hulsen 14, D. Agius 4

Referees: B. Vassallo, I. Simic, C. Pollet

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