The Malta Independent 20 January 2020, Monday

Basketball, Louis Borg Cup, Women, Game 1: A useful advantage for the Paolites

Willie Vassallo Friday, 13 December 2019, 21:19 Last update: about 2 months ago

Starlites GIG     55     Hibernians      64

 (13-21, 11-18, 21-14, 10-11)

The two sides met yet again, for the seventh time, this season. The last time around, the champions had ousted Hibs from the K.O. competition. Hibs could now have their revenge, as they lead their adversaries into the second encounter, but Starlites will have hopes of making up the leeway, next Sunday. The Paolites always seemed to have the edge over their opponents, although they saw a heavy advantage slipping away after the interval. Starlites will bemoan the fact that they lost Steffi DeMartino, soon after the start of the last session, losing part of their height advantage in the crucial part of the match.

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Hibs' Jasmine Abela sank an early triple, with Starlites going to a tied score on three occasions after. The Paolites then opened up a better advantage, as Sam Brincat and Abela again, made their treys, and Leanne Duncan netted a trio of buckets. Starlites then had to chase. In the next session, Hibs' lead flourished and Brincat nailed a second trey. Starlites were replying mainly with free throws, but Brincat put in a further trey, and Ashleigh Van Vliet, who was Hibs' go-to player, also responded with her triple. Starlites had no befitting reply, and at the interval, the Paolites were on a heavy 39-24 advantage.

After the break, Starlites improved tremendously. Hibs had only a van Vliet three-point play to offset Starlites' strong opening, in a 15-3 run. Starlites made the overtaking complete, as Michela Zammit Cordina netted a trey, and Spaniard, Patricia Arguello, made a free shot. Hibs started to click once more, taking up the remainder of the session to mark up a 9-0 run, as American, Amelia Simmons, had her scoring touch once more. Into the last session, Hibs were on a favourable 53-45 score. DeMartino made her last points of the match, before limping away to the bench, taking no further part in the match. A three hoop spread had Hibs going into another double-digit lead, but an 8-2 run, ending with a Mikela Riolo triple, had Starlites nearer. Hibs managed to net their last points, to open up a better lead, and also missed a last-second sitter, which would have given them a better advantage, to take into the second match.

Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina, M. Riolo, A. Micallef, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett, C. Curmi, S. DeMartino, P. Arguello, M. Cutajar, A. Lupo   

Hibs: I. Agius 1, A. Van Vliet, S. Brincat,  L. Duncan, J. Abela, C. Camilleri, Y. Bonett, N. Farrugia, K. Calleja, K. Caruana, M. Buhagiar, A. Simmons     

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

 

Arms Depiro     82     Luxol     65

(18-17, 20-16, 21-13, 23-19)

Depiro had beaten Luxol recently,  in the K.O. competition and they followed up with this comfortable victory, which thrusts them as firm favourites to land another final. They will go into next Sunday's match brimful of confidence, especially after their performance after the interval.  There is also the fact that their American, Hannah Johnson, again ran rings around the Luxol defence, as she did in their last encounter. Luxol recovered Sarah Pace, and Spaniard, Ina Baena, although the latter was not utilised in the match. Depiro also had Nicole Agius and Claire Ciantar in the side, from their last game, but were also without Shanise Farrugia nad Nicole Hili.

Beverlee Zammit nailed an early Luxol triple. With Depiro having Nicole Agius sinking two treys for them. Monique Caruana did the same for Luxol, who regained their advantage. Depiro tied the score, but the Violets had Caruana again with a long one. Till the end of the session, Depiro were ahead, as Johnson netted her two free shots. In the next period, Depiro's lead began to grow, even if Cristina Sollami nailed a Luxol triple. Despite Johnson's points for Depiro, the Violeta managed to tie the score, with a 7-0 run, and Nicole Vella points. Depiro reacted with a 9-0 run, and a Denise Said Hollier trey. Luxol answered with a brace of buckets, but Depiro were still in front, at 38-33, at the interval.

After the break, Depiro's pressure began to tell. An 8-0 start, with another Agius trey, took Depiro to a better lead. Luxol had Pace and Zammit making tripoles, but Depiro were still drawing further in front. Caruana made her third Luxol trey, but Depiro were on a solid 59-46 lead, after three sessions of play. Luxol fell further behind, as Agius netted her fourth Depiro trey. Pace replied likewise, for Luxol, but their opposition wasn't strong enough, and Depiro also had Johnson ti o pile up the points. Depiro's lead grew until Luxol managed to end the match with another Pace triple and Caruana free throws, which still left them with a mountain to climb in the return match.

Depiro: No. Agius, N. Ebejer, N. Agius, J. Borg, D. Said Hollier, M. Scicluna, C. Ciantar, S. Farrugia, N. Hili, N. Borg, H. Johnson, E. Cassar

Luxol:  S. Pace, B. Zammit, N. Vella, I. Baena,  No. Vella, S. Vella, K. Portelli, A. Borg, J. Schembri, M. Caruana, C. Sollami, M. Mercieca

Referees: G. Barbara, V. Nikolic, S. Jafilica

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