The Malta Independent 20 January 2020, Monday

Basketball, Louis Borg Cup, Men, Game 1: Hibs ahead, but enjoyed better advantages

Willie Vassallo Friday, 13 December 2019, 20:37 Last update: about 2 months ago

Hibernians     106     Starlites GIG     96

(31-23, 32-22, 17-22, 26-29)

An enjoyable game, with a large final score. The Paolites will take a good ten-point lead into the return match, but it could have been better for them, as they were on a better advantage on several occasions. Despite the adverse score against them, for the major part of the game, Starlites kept pegging away and managed to obtain a better final score, although they will still have a solid task ahead of them, next Sunday, in the return encounter. Hibs managed to get their third straight victory over their opponents this season and could have one foot in the semi-final stage if they had managed to hold on to their substantial leads. They still await the return of their Swede, William Ahlberg, nursing his injured wrist.

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The Paolites had already established a good advantage in the opening period. Their collective play ensured a lead, as American, Chandler Rowe, and Nikola Vasovic sank early triples. Starlites also had Ryan Carabott and Alec Felice Pace, with their treys, but they saw their adversaries creeping gradually away. In the next session, Hibs went into their double-digit advantage, which they kept on till the end of the match. This time there were Isaac Bonett, and Kieron Caruana with treys, the latter with a last-second one, and the towering Serbian, Ivan Demcesen, to pour in his points, in the paint. Starlites replied with American, Konor Kulas, and Matthew Scerri, with treys. Still, they were falling behind, as time went on, and at the interval, the Paolites were enjoying a heavy 63-45 advantage.

After the break, Hibs went further in front for a maximum 69-47 score. Starlites began their long way back, making up a 13-2 run, with Robert Bonnici and Ian Felice Pace treys. Hibs managed to keep their opponents from getting any nearer,  as Ivanovic sank another triple, to add on to his other four buckets, and Hibs were 80-67 to the good. In the last quarter, Kulas made another trey, but the Paolites were still in control, and Vasovic was finding the opposing ring regularly, also netting a third trey. Kulas sank a further Starlites triple, but Hibs were still banking on Demcesen and Vasovic, for their points. Alec Felice Pace kept the Starlites' flag flying, getting the necessary points, with David Bugeja, at the other end, also getting in amongst the scorers, besides his ball-handling skills throughout the match. He also hit Hibs' century mark. The match ended with a very late Felice Pace triple, which gave further hopes to Starlites, in the return rubber, although the Poalites must be favourites to progress.

Hibs: P. Attard, D. Bugeja 12, K. Caruana 3, L. Farrugia,  I. Bonett 7, N. Vasovic 31,  A. Axiaq 8, M. Matijevic 5, M. Attard, C. Rowe 12, I. Demcesen 28

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 31, R. Bonnici 14, I. Felice Pace 5, M. Fabri, M. Falzon, M. Scerri 7, R. Carabott 3,  K. Kulas 25, J. Marseille 13

Referees: B. Vassallo, K. Dworniczak, L. Camilleri

 

Luxol     91     Depiro     95

(16-18, 29-21, 24-26, 22-30)

It was another high scoring match. As Depiro eked out a small advantage, to take with them into the second encounter, on Sunday. Luxol will take hope, seeing that they held advantages during the game, also towards the end of the encounter. The Violets could have had a match-winner, in their Serbian, Vukasin Jandric, who totted up a mammoth score, but he still finished on the losing end. It is still an open match, with Luxol recovering their suspended player, Stefan Cappello, who missed this match. They had their Serbian, Slavko Opojevlic, back in lieu. Depiro were without Michael Naudi, and their Czech player, Adam Chomo, was on the bench, but not utilised.

It was Luxol with an early lead, and a Keith Dimech trey. Depiro tied the score, fell behind to a JP Schembri triple, and overturned the score, before suffering another trey, by Jandric. Depiro were still just ahead at the session's end. The second period had the Violets tying the score twice ad falling behind again. Schembri and Dimech then netted treys, in a 9-0 run, as Luxol forged ahead. Depiro lost Nicholas Grech on two major fouls, including dissent, but managed to chase their opponents from near enough. Dimech netted the third triple, as Luxol ended the halfway stage on a 45-39 advantage.

After the break, Depiro were just behind, with Serbian, Marco Todorovic points. Schembri and Jandric sank Luxol treys, with Omar Said replying likewise for Depiro. When Jandric points took Luxol further in front, there was Matthew Borg nailing a Depiro triple, but Jandric put in further points. Todorovic and American, Quinn Cooper, had Depiro closer once more, but Juan Cefai managed a late trey for Luxol, who led 69-65, into the last session. Depiro overturned the score, as Cooper made his trey. Dimech restored Luxol's lead, but Todporovic and Cooper were still making their hoops, for another Depiro advantage. Cooper and said sank triples, but more Jandric treys, on two occasions, had Luxol forging in front yet again. That was as far as they went, as Depiro contrived to make up a late 10-0 run, with Said and Kurt Xuereb triples, to assure themselves of the win, with Cefai lopping two points off the deficit, with his last hoop of the match.

Luxol: J. Cefai 7, V. Jandric 43, P. Engelbert 4, E. Caruana Montaldo, F. Mifsud Bonnici 3, JP Schembri 11, K. Dimech 19, I. Pace, L. Trapani , K. Gauci, S. Opojevlic 4

Depiro: M. Todorovic 30, Q. Cooper 30,  D. Farrugia 2, N. Grech 4, O. Said 11, K. Xuereb 13, M. Borg 5, J. Attard, A. Chomo

Referees: G. Barbara, D. Torok, S. Jafilica

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