Malta too strong for San Marino
San Marino 57
(28-13, 15-13, 27-15, 26-16)
The Maltese national team wrapped up their FIBA European Championship for small states last weekend with a handsome win over host country San Marino to finish a creditable third in the final classification.
This time there was no Stefano Rossini to rescue San Marino as the Maltese produced their best display in the tournament to secure a merited bronze medal.
This was a second consecutive third placing for the national team at this level.
The tournament was won by Andorra. In Saturday night’s final, they beat Moldova 74-72.
In other classification matches, Wales finished fifth after beating Gibraltar (95-72).
Gibraltar then lost to Scotland 84-60 to end up at the bottom of the standings.
Malta started the game on Saturday with a 7-0 run and after seven minutes they had opened a double-figure lead 17-6.
Paolo di Fonzo’s team increased the advantage with some strong plays in attack by Josh Jackson to end the session 28-13 ahead.
San Marino, who had beaten Malta in the group match earlier in the week following a last-gasp Rossini basket, tried to recover at the start of the second period but Omar Said and the towering Samuel Deguara kept Malta’s lead 32-20 half-way through the second quarter.
Julian Gualtieri scored a trey for San Marino in the eighth minute but at half-time Malta were still leading comfortably 43-26.
After a balanced start to the third session, there was a 10-0 run for Di Fonzo’s men with Deguara scoring most of the points.
In the fifth minute, the Reds had a 25-point lead (55-30) and a couple of treys by captain Steve Schembri continued to pile more pressure on the hosts.
San Marino were in difficulty and Malta made another 8-4 run to close the quarter 70-41 to the good.
The last session started with the hosts nailing in five successive points but Malta replied strongly with a 16-0 run.
The game was over for San Marino as Malta were clearly in control in the final stages. There was still time, however, for a Shawn Pace basket on his debut for the national team as Deguara rattled an impressive 41.
At the end of the tournament, Deguara and team-mate Jackson were selected in the tournament’s top five.