The Malta Independent 27 November 2021, Saturday

Basketball, BOV National League - Men - Div. 1: Starlites overtake Athleta

Willie Vassallo Sunday, 16 February 2020, 20:20 Last update: about 3 years ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Starlites GIG     105     Luxol     96

(23-20, 28-27, 21-19, 33-30)

High scoring matches have now become a habit of these games. Starlites went on equal points, with leaders, Athleta, both with five victories, in seven encounters.  It was a tight match until the start of the last quarter of play, when Starlites forged forward, and went just out of reach of their opponents. they held this advantage till the end, to make it four wins out of four against Depiro, this season. Luxol's twin prongs, of Serbian, Vukasin Jandric, and American, William Claiborne, were not enough for the Violets, as Starlites, ably led by livewire American, Konor Kulas, and a sterling display by young Ian Felice Pace, had the better of their adversaries. A dozen triples also helped their cause, to vie for top placing.


Play alternated at the start, with the lead changing hands five times till the end of the session. With Jandric and Claiborne there was also Stefan Cappello for Luxol, although he was then hampered with a dodgy ankle. Robert Bonnici and Felice Pace grabbed two late triples, to take Starlites to another lead. In the next period Luxol snapped at Starlites' hells, until they went in front, with Jandric free throws, even though Felice Pace and American, Robert Ahearn, also made treys, for Starlites. A 9-0 run had Starlites taking a further lead, which they kept till the interval. Jandric sank a Luxol trey, but Starlites countered with another brace of late triples, by Bonnici and Billie Zammit, making a cameo appearance. Score 51-47 to Starlites.

After the break points slowed down a little. Lucol tied the score, with a couple of Cappello buckets, but Starlites were again in the lead. Jandric nailed two more Luxol treys, to keep them just behind. Starlites opened up their advantage once more, as Matthew Scerri also made a trey. Jandric free shots took Luxol close again, for a 66-72 score. The floodgates again opened in the last period. Luxol went a hoop in arrears, but Kulas contrived to give Starlites a better advantage. Triples kept coming, with Alec and Ian Felice Pace, and two from Scerri, for Starlites, and Jandric and Francesco Mifsud Boonnici for the Violets.  Ryan Carabott free throws took Starlites to the century score. Jandric and Keith Dimech, the latter with a late trey, had Luxol also close to a century, but time ran out on them, leaving them just behind Depiro, for a final Play Off place.

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 3, B. Zammit 3, R. Bonnici 11, I. Felice Pace 16, M. Fabri, M. Falzon, M. Scerri 9, R. Carabott 15, K. Kulac 33, R. Ahearn 11

Luxol: J. Cefai, V. Jandric 37, K. Gauci , E. Caruana Montaldo, F. Mifsud Bonnici 3, JP Schembri 2, K. Dimech 13, I. Pace, W. Claiborne 29, S. Cappello 12  

Referees: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic


Hibernians     96     Depiro     88

(20-24, 23-20, 25-20, 28-24)

The Paolites had just beaten Depiro twice, in the Louis Borg Cup, also netting centuries, but this time they fell short of another one, but the victory was more important, as it took them above the Athleta-Starlites tandem, but Hibs have a game more. As in the previous encounter, Depiro's Americans, Cirdarius Johnson and Quinn Cooper, bagged more than half of the side's tally, but still finished up on the losing side. Hibs had that little more fire power, to notch their fifth win, in eight games. David Bugeja not only was Hibs' ball handler, but he also finished up as their top scorer. The Paolites have now beaten Depiro in four of their five encounters.

The two sides were alternating leads at first, but later on it was Depiro to go in front, and stay there till the end of the session. They had Johnson and Cooper, the latter with two, netting triples, and Kieron Caruana sinking one late one for Hibs, as they kept close. In the next period Depiro opened up another advantage, as Johnson sank another trey, but Hibs tied the score. Depiro regained their lead, and kept it for some time, before being overtaken again by the Paolites. More Cooper points had Depiro leading the way till the interval, despite a late Nikola Vasovic hoop, for his. Depiro kept their noses in front, on a 44-43 score.

After the break Hibs tried hard to jump ahead, with Anton Axiaq and American, Chandler Rowe, hoops, but Depiro replied with their triples, four in a row, by Johnson, Nicholas Grech, Miguel Brincat and Cooper. An 11-0 run finally helped the Paolites to squeeze in front, as Bugeja sank a triple. American, jay hardy, points helped Hibs to stay ahead, on a 68-64 score. The last session had Depiro chasing hard, with Johnson leading the charge, but Hiubs grittily resisted them, with Bugeja on a second trey. Johnson also put in a trey, and more of his points had Depiro close again. A four-bucket spread decided the match in Hibs' favour, with Depiro's final spurt landing them Grech and Johnson triples, which only helped for a better scoreline.

Hibs: J. Hardy 20, P. Attard, D. Bugeja 23, K. Caruana 4, L. Farrugia, I. Bonett, N. Vasovic 10, A. Axiaq 7, M. Matijevic 9, M. Attard, C. Rowe 15, I. Demcesen 8  

Depiro: C. Johnson 27, Q. Cooper 25, J. Attard, D. Farrugia 4, N. Grech 8, K. Xuereb 12, M. Borg, M. Brincat 3, T. Zammit, A, Chomo 6, A. Attard 3 

Referees:  Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic, M. Hraisha

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