Siġġiewi and Athleta to contest final
Siġġiewi and Athleta A-Z Electronics will meet in the final of the MBA Shield after overcoming BUPA Luxol and Depiro Mtarfa respectively in the semi-finals last weekend. This will be the third final between these two teams this season after they also contested the Super Cup and Gozo Cup.
Bupa Luxol 67
(18-17, 17-13, 14-22, 21-15)
A host of new foreign players made their first appearances for their respective teams as American Jerome Belin played for Luxol while Siġġiewi paraded their second overseas player, Belgian Clemente Kodomaris, with Marko Matijevic out injured.
Belin enjoyed an impressive debut as he scored 38 points while Kodomaris also contributed significantly to Siġġiewi’s win in a high-scoring game that left those present on the edge of their seats until the very end.
With nine three-pointers, Belin kept Luxol in touch but then committed his fifth foul in attack with two minutes left and had to leave the court at a crucial moment for his team.
Luxol opened strongly but Chris Maeir put Siġġiewi back into contention.
Siġġiewi kept their momentum going at the start of the second session to increase their lead to 29-18.
However, Siġġiewi’s play became scrappy in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Luxol took control and pulled level on 35-all two minutes after the break.
Siġġiewi introduced some fresh legs and their game improved significantly but it was Luxol who started the last 10 minutes 52-49 ahead only to lose Jean Paul Bonnici on five fouls.
Luxol potted the opening basket of the fourth quarter but Siġġiewi then added nine points to their tally to go 58-54 in front.
The stage was set for an exciting finale but Luxol’s chances suffered a big blow when Belin committed a decisive foul while in possession.
Siġġiewi weathered the storm to hold on to their slender lead and seal their passage to the final.
Siġġiewi: R. Agius, L. Camilleri 12, P. Shoults 8, E. Xuereb 5, N. Sultana 7, A. Borg 8, J.P. Azzopardi, C. Maeir 16, C. Kodomaris 14.
Luxol: C. Cordina 3, M. Mercieca 2, J. Belin 38, A. Micallef Trigona, L. Ross 13, A. Costa 2, N. Vasovic 2, T. Paris, A. Cremona 7, E. Caruana Montaldo, J.P. Bonnici, S. Calpello.
Referees: B. Vassallo, A. Carbonaro, C. Terribile.
Depiro Mtarfa 52
(8-18, 14-13, 11-17, 19-19)
Athleta stayed in the hunt to win their third honour of the season with a merited victory over Depiro in their MBA Shield semi-final last weekend.
Much more was expected from Depiro who had Gary Hamlin, of the US, and former Siġġiewi forward Adrian Micallef making their debut.
Hamlin distinguished himself with some fine assists and timely blocks but his shooting requires some polishing.
Bahrain’s Mohammed Kawaid, making his bow for Athleta, was more positive in his scoring power, finishing top-scorer of the match with 16 points.
After the opening minutes, Depiro fluffed some easy chances besides losing possession in five consecutive attacks.
Athleta took advantage to lead 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Depiro improved but, after reducing the gap to five points 26-21, Athleta regained control to change ends 31-22 ahead.
Depiro’s reaction failed to arrive after the interval. They had problems opening up Athleta’s aggressive defence.
A series of good moves proved too much for Depiro’s slow-moving zone defence as Athleta increased their advantage to 48-33 for the last 10 minutes.
Athleta had little difficulty to control their lead until the final whistle.
Depiro: R. Vella 9, J.P. Schembri, A. Aquilina 6, A. Portelli 8, A. Micallef 7, E. Lupo, M. Mallia, I. Tanti 11, G. Hamlin 11.
Athleta: M. Naudi 12, D. Bugeja 6, M. Kawaid 16, D. Schembri 14, A. Fakete 5, O. Said 8, A. Bonnici 6, K. Baldacchino, M. Giusti.
Referees: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, A. Carbonaro.
Playing on Sunday
MBA Shield final: 16.30 Siġġiewi vs Athleta A-Z Electronics.