The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

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

Willie Vassallo Thursday, 25 April 2019, 22:50 Last update: about 6 months ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Hibernians     85     Gzira Athleta     87

(after overtime)

(14-10, 23-20, 20-23, 22-26 - (6-8))

Normal time was not enough for the opening final, with the two sides near to each other, and locked at the end. Athleta edged it in overtime, but tehre was nothing to choose between the two outfits, and the match could have gone either way. Hibs had Canadian, Chad Cuschieri Patus, in fine form, and given a helping hand from Italian, Luca Tardito and the indefatigable Roderick Vella. Athleta had American, Connell Crossland starting well, then both the other Americans, Vincent Pace and Julio Guity, took over, with Peter Shoults springing up, after the interval.

This thrilling match began with a crossland trey, but Tardito turned the score around, for the Paolites. Cuschieri Patus increased the champions' lead, with Athleta creeping back, but the Paolites were still ahead, after the first period. Cuschieri Patus netted a trey in the next session, but so did Mathhew Gouder, for, Athleta, at the other end. Cuschieri Patus'second triple, and Vella free throws had Hibs on n 8-2 run, and they established an advantage, which went on till the interval, despite Connell's contribution for athleta. Hibs held a 37-30 lead, halfway through the match.

After the break Hibs edged further ahead, but Athleta came back strongly, as Shoults found hid scoring touch, with a triple, and zone penetrations. Athleta were briefly in front, but the Paolites managed a 9-0 run, when the Serbian, Ivan Demcesen, went on court, and Spaniard, Alvaro Lizaur sank his trey. Hibs went into the last quarter on a 57-53 advantage. Guity points quickly pushed Athleta into another lead, and they held on for some time, as Pace made his points, and despite Tardito's buckets for Hibs. Cuschieri Patus nailed two quick treys, and Athleta lost their lead, but they twice tied the score. Marco Matijevic's triple had the champions in front again, but Gouder's second trey took Athleta nearer, and they managed to save the match, with Guity points, as overtime became a reality.

Vella had Hibs ahead, but Pace and Guity overturned the score, in favour of Athleta. Two more Hibs hoops regained an advantage, but it was left to Pace, with his final two buckets, to squeeze Athleta in front, with Hibs failing their last opportunity.

There is still everything to fight for, in the remaining matches, starting with the second one, next Sunday, at 4.15pm.

Hibs: R. Vella 13, P. Attard, K. Sultana, L. Farrugia, M. Formosa, I. Bonett, L. Tardito 16, A. Axiaq 4, M. Matijevic 5, A. Lizaur 6, I. Demcesen 12, C. Cuschieri Patus 29

Athleta: N. Vasovic 2, C. Crossland 17, P. Shoults 10, L. Stefanovic, A. Perunicic, N. Xuereb 4, M. Gouder 6, V. Pace 29, J. Guity 19

Referees: T. Mantere, Z. Dobrosavljevic, D. Torok 
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