Athleta down Hibs, Depiro see off Luxol’s late surge
In their first Shield outing, Gżira Athleta registered a comfortable win over Hibernians who suffered their second defeat after a narrow eight-point loss to Floriana a week before.
This means that the winners of Pool 1 will be determined in the forthcoming encounter between Gżira Athleta and Floriana.
Hibs were handicapped by the loss of Italian player Fabrizio Mariani very early in the game while Gżira Athleta overwhelmed their opponents with a 14-0 run in the space of seven minutes with high-scoring duo Josiah Whitehead and Michael Naudi snatching most of the baskets.
With Hibs looking somewhat edgy and also resorting to protests sanctioned with technical fouls, Athleta’s lead increased to 33-11 midway into the second quarter.
The game’s tempo did not change much over the next 13 minutes of play as Gżira further extended their lead, 59-26, and looked very much in command.
Hibs enjoyed their best moments in the final quarter as they had a number of long-distance shots from Alvaro Lizaur, Luke Farrugia and Isaac Bonett to make the scoreline look more respectable.
In Pool 2, Cynergi Depiro kicked off their Shield commitments with an important win over BUPA Luxol who were coming from a comfortable 82-51 victory over Starlites.
After both sides changed ends on level terms, 29-29, Depiro looked set for victory as they established an 18-point lead, 68-50, with only five minutes to go.
However, Luxol made a late rally but ran out of time as Depiro held out for a five-point win.
Both sides neutralised each other in the first half.
Depiro set off with a 10-2 run, mainly through Robert Bonnici’s points, in the early minutes, but Luxol were quick to counter thanks mainly to the efforts of Pierce Cumpstone and C.J. Cordina.
Luxol even managed to forge 19-13 ahead after a three-pointer from J.P. Schembri who was forced to leave the court shortly afterwards after picking up an injury.
The first half ended with a Samuel Zammit long-distance shot to help Depiro tie the score at 29-29.
Two treys by Zammit and Andrew Aquilina were instrumental in an 8-0 Depiro run late in the third quarter which was followed by a number of David Bugeja points. Depiro led 58-43 going into the last quarter.
Dominic Scafidi’s three-pointer put Depiro 71-55 ahead with less than four minutes remaining to all but settle the contest but Luxol made a late surge.
They went on a 13-2 run but their comeback fell short.
The first seasonal honour in the men’s division two category went to Gżira Athleta who had superior shooting prowess than their opponents Mellieħa to win the Shield final 77-64.
With foreign import Kwame Thompson stealing the limelight and contributing almost two-thirds of his side’s points, Gżira Athleta led from start to finish with Mellieħa putting in a lot of effort to try and neutralise the deficit.
MBA president Paul Sultana presented the Shield trophy to Gżira Athleta captainJoshua Aquilina at the end of the final.
Gżira Athleta 71
(4-18, 14-24, 14-21, 24-8)
Hibs: P. Attard 1, M. Matijevic , M. Hampton , L. Farrugia 12, S. Attard 6, I. Bonett 13, K. Caruana 7, R. Carabott 3, K. Sultana, S. Vella, F. Mariani 2, A. Lizaur 12.
Athleta: M. Naudi 19, R. Vella 8, D. Camilleri 2, L. Stefanovic, P. Shoults 7, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit 6, S. Vincic , M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 29.
Referees: B. Vassallo, T. Helenius, K. Dworniczak
Bupa Luxol 68
Cynergi Depiro 73
(12-11, 17-18, 14-29, 25-15)
Luxol: C.J. Cordina 15, M. Mercieca 6, J. Willoughby 2, J. Maistre Melillo, J.P. Schembri 5, K. Dimech 5, W. Ahlberg, P. Cumpstone 31, S. Cappello 4.
Depiro: J. Attard, D. Bugeja 21, R. Bonnici 20, D. Schembri 2, A. Aquilina 6, S. Zammit 9, T. Zammit 7, M. Mallia, A. Quiros, N. Grech , M. Borg , D. Scafidi 8.
Referees: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, Z. Dobrosavljevic.