The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

Basketball, BOV National League - Men 1 Div.: Athleta in a tight win, after heavy advantage

Willie Vassallo Sunday, 24 November 2019, 19:58 Last update: about 7 days ago
Photos: James Galea
Photos: James Galea

Gzira Athleta     66     Hibernians     63

(20-12, 22-14, 12-21, 12-16)

The two sides took an honour off the other, in earlier encounters, with the Paolites winning the Super Cup and the champions getting the MBA Shield. Both sides had won their opening league match, with Athleta obtaining a second win, after nearly frittering away a large advantage, midway through the third quarter. Hibs trailed badly but managed to tie the score, in the last period, only to see Athleta regain their lead, and register a second league victory.

The two teams shared the opening four points, with the champions then bursting forward, with an 8-0 run, and a Nathan Xuereb trey. Hibs went nearer, but it was Athleta with a brace of triples, in the late stages of the session, from an American, Connel Crossland, and Luca Stefanovic. for a better advantage. The second session had the champions moving further away, as Stafanovic continues to grow in confidence, and netted a second trey. The Paolites retaliated with a 9-2 run, as Swede, William Ahlberg, sank a triple. Later on, he had to cry off, again with his injured wrist. Shawn Pace made an Athleta trey, starting a long 13-2 run, ending with another triple, from American, Ian Thiesen. Luke Farrugia managed a late trey, for Hibs, who were still 26-42 in arrears, at the interval.

After the break Athleta still held sway, keeping their adversaries at a distance, and then going on a maximum 52-30 advantage, as Pace sank another triple. Hibs were stung, and reacted well, making a good 17-2 run, till the end of the period, as Nikola Vasovic ended their run with his triple, for a much nearer 47-54 score. The last session had Hibs in full cry, putting in an early 9-2 run, with another Farrugia trey, to tie the score. Triples at either end, from Athleta's Peter Shoults, and Hibs' American, Chandler Rowe, kept the sides locked, but Athleta made the decisive break, as Stefanovic netted his third trey. Vasovic took the Paolites in contention again, with his two buckets, but little time remained, and Hibs had only a hurried try at going into overtime, which failed, and the champions took the spoils.

Athleta: E. Sciberras, M. Novakovic 2, C. Crossland 18, S. Pace 8, B. Zammit, P. Shoults 3, L. Stefanovic 11, S. Galea, N. Xuereb 17, I. Thiesen 7, E. Abela, R. Abela

Hibs: W. Ahlberg 9, P. Attard, D. Bugeja 18, K. Caruana, L. Farrugia 6,  I. Bonett 4, N. Vasovic 9,  A. Axiaq 2, M. Matijevic, M. Attard, C. Rowe 11, I. Demcesen 4   

Referees: G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic, L. Camilleri



Luxol     70     Depiro     87    

(13-23, 17-16, 14-23, 26-25)

The two sides were meeting for the first time this season, having evaded each other, in the previous two competitions. It was also Luxol's opening league match, with Depiro losing out on their first one, but they made amends, winning this encounter in a handsome manner. They obtained a useful advantage, which they added on to, after the interval, to put their minds at rest, for the rest of the match. Luxol had Philip Engelbert back in the side, but they only have raw talent on the bench. Depiro's opening formation is an experienced one, which they can fall on, if not foul hit.

Luxol's opening points were wiped off at an early stage, as Depiro embarked on a 14-2 run, with American, Quinn Cooper, already making his mark. Serbian, Vukasin Jandric, struck for the Violets, taking them nearer, but Depiro went again to the fore, ending the period on a 7-2 run, to enhance their advantage. The next session was a more balanced one, but Depiro could rest on their lead. Luxol relied on their triples, as Keith Dimech, Jandric and JP Schembri sank theirs. Depiro still matched them on points, getting to the interval practically unscathed, and leading on a 39-30 score.

After the break, Luxol had to chase once more. The Depiro trio, of Quinn, Serbian, Marco Todorov, with his powerful thrusts in the paint, and Michael Naudi, could easily extend Depiro's advantage. triples came at either end, from Depiro's Quinn, and Luxol's Schembri, as Depiro went into the last quarter on a somewhat safe 62-44 advantage. The last period was replete with points, but Luxol just couldn't get any nearer. They did try at first, cutting away a part of their deficit, but Depiro replied quickly, and a hefty 17-4 run, as the Czech, Adam Chomo, again went on court, to pour in his points. Depiro relaxed at the end, sure of their victory, with Luxol finding space to notch four triples, from Francesco Mifsud Bonnici, a couple by Schembri, and Dimech netting a last-second one, with play practically at a stop.

Luxol: L. Trapani , V. Jandric 26, P. Engelbert 4, E. Caruana Montaldo, F. Mifsud Bonnici 6, JP Schembri 12, K. Dimech 12, I. Pace 4, K. Gauci, S. Cappello 6 

Depiro: M. Todorovic 17, Q. Cooper 33, M. Naudi 16, D. Farrugia, N. Grech, O. Said 4, K. Xuereb 4, M. Borg, M. Brincat, J. Attard, A. Chomo 13, A. Attard

Referees: B. Vassallo, I. Simic, S. Jafilica

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