The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

Basketball, BOV League Play Offs, Men Div. I: Athleta edge out Starlites

Willie Vassallo Sunday, 14 April 2019, 20:47 Last update: about 5 months ago
Photos: Domenic Aquilina
Photos: Domenic Aquilina

Gzira Athleta     88     Starlites GIG     78

(17-18, 19-19, 20-23, 32-18)

Athleta rode out American, Julio Guity's fouling out, to keep pace with their opponents, and then struck back when it was Starlites losing American, Cameron ward, on fouls. The other Athleta two Americans, Connell Crossland and Vincent Pace, grabbed the major part of their team's points, as did Starlites' two Americans, William Darley and Jordan Stotts, to a lesser scale. The lead changed hands several times throughout the encounter, but Athleta's surge, towards the end of the match clinched the result, which propels them to the final, leaving Starlites to lick their wounds, as the game became their last appearance for the season.


Starlites obtained the opening advantage, as the triples flew in from early on. Stotts made a brace, with others from Ward and Nick Formosa, for Starlites. Athleta had Pace with a couple and Crossland. Starlites' minimal lead, got better, in the second period, but Athleta went in front, and Pacfe's second triple, had them again in the lead. Darley's points, with a trey, took Starlites into another advantage, which they kept till the interval, again on a meagre point lead, despite Nathan Xauereb's late trey, for Athleta. Score at 37-36.

After the break Pace's next triple increased Athleta's lead, but they lost Guity. Starlites couldn't break free of their adversaries, when they had Stotts and Darley with more treys. So did Athleta, as Pace netted two more triples. Into the last session it was Starlites leading on a 60-56 score. Just a couple of minutes later, and it was Ward fouling out, for Starlites. Athleta grew in stature, and they erased their deficit, and started to draw away from their opponents. with Crossland on top of his game, and Pace pouring in the points. Starlites did get close, but they couldn't make the breakthrough, even if Darley sank two more triples. When Starlites tried to stop the clock, Pace coolly made his free throws, to sweep away any Starlites hopes of a late rally. For Athleta it is back to back final appearances, and a chance to add on to their ten league titles.

Athleta: N. Vasovic 2, C. Crossland 25, P. Shoults, L. Stefanovic, A. Perunicic 2, N. Xuereb 12, M. Gouder 5, V. Pace 37, J. Guity 5

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 7, N. Formosa 10, R. Bonnici 2, I. Felice Pace , C. Ward 8, M. Falzon, M. Scerri, R. Carabott, W. Darley 21, J. Stotts 30

Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic, D. Torok


Floriana MCP Car Parks     80     HIbernians     86

(22-20, 30-25, 12-10, 16-31)

The Paolites had to sweat this one out, and Floriana must be bitterly disappoints at not having tied the series, and forced a rubber encounter. The Greens led for most of the match, but they couldn't make it to the final buzzer, as a Hibs last session spurt gave them the spoils, and a place in the final. Floriana kept their opponents at bay, with American, Ian Thiesen, and Spaniard, Ignacio Arias, points, with the latter playing his best game of the season. The champions had Spaniard, Alvaro Lizaur, keeping them in the game, with his triples, and Roderick Vella, not only spraying passes, but also obtaining vital points, and also treys. Floriana thus bow out of the season, but with heads held high.

The Greens went 9-2 ahead, early on, as Estonian, Kevin Liivamage, netted a trey. Hibs turned the score around, with a 10-2 run of their own, and a brace of Lizaur triples. Vella regained the Paolites' advantage, after Floriana had claimed it back, with his trey, but Thiesen's triple put the Greens in front once more, and they stayed there till the end of the session. The second period was replete with more treys, as Floriana went ahead, and remained there, till the interval. The Greens' triples came from Thiesen, Arias, with a double, and Kieron Caruana. Hibs countered with braces from Luke Farrugia and Vella, and another by Lizaur. Halfway through the match Floriana were on a 52-45 advantage.

After the break the tempo of the match toned down a little, with points at both ends on a lesser scale. The Geens nor only kept their lead, but inched forward, with David Bugeja, back from injury, after losing the opening semi-final, more in the reckoning. The Paolites had to start the last encounter on a 55-64 deficit. Lizaur and Valla put in more Hibs treys, but in between there was Caruana with a second Floriana triple. Lizaur's free shots drew Hibs nearer. Hibs were stopped by a Kurt Xuereb trey, for Floriana, but their reaction brought Farrugia and Lizaur treys, as the Paolites hopped in front. The Greens were briefly ahead once more, but Hobs' pressure paid off, and they embarked on a telling 10-2 run, with a sixth Lizaur triple. Time ran out for Floriana, as the Paolites went into a repeat of last season's final, against Athleta. Last year Hibs had won their fourth league title.

Floriana: S. Pace, D. Bugeja 13, D. Camilleri, S. Borg, K. Caruana 6, K. Liivamagi 2, I. Arias 18, Ian Thiesen 25, K. Xuereb 7, G. Hulsen 6, D. Agius

Hibs: R. Vella 18, P. Attard,  K. Sultana, L. Farrugia 9, M. Formosa, M. Attard, L. Tardito 6, A. Axiaq 4, M. Matijevic 4, A. Lizaur 30, I. Demcesen 8, C. Cuschieri Patus 7  

Referees: B. Vassallo, T. Mantere, C. Xuereb

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