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Depiro prevail in overtime

Greens make it two out of two, Luxol record first win

Going for basket... Luxol player Keith Dimech (left) tries to charge past Starlites’ Thomas Grech. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Going for basket... Luxol player Keith Dimech (left) tries to charge past Starlites’ Thomas Grech. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Cynergi Depiro 83
Hibernians 79

(16-19, 14-18, 21-18, 21-17 – 11-7)

The game looked done and dusted in Hibs’ favour when, with just over a minute remaining and the score 69-64 for Hibs, Cynergi Depiro stole the ball in mid-court. DJ Mason went for the basket completely alone but incredibly his dunk attempt came off the ring.

However, Hibs failed to capitalise as they were too erratic in their free-throw shots in the next seconds of the game, missing an astonishing seven from 10 attempts, to keep their opponents, who in the meantime had a brace of baskets from David Bugeja, in the game.

Seconds from the end, with four points separating the two sides, Hibs opted to hassle and foul Bugeja on a shot and the converted free-throw forced overtime which went Depiro’s way.

Depiro coach Paul Ferrante was happy with the win.

“After last week’s poor performance, this was a very important win not only for the morale of the team and the sponsors, but also for the run to the first four play-off spots,” Ferrante said.

“Hibs have solid inside players and we knew it was not going to be easy. Our never-say-die attitude was a key factor but a win is a win and we’ll take it any time.”

Although Mason, Andrew Aquilina and Robert Bonnici were accurate early on for Depiro, Hibs managed to close the first period in the lead, thanks mainly to a 13-0 run with Spaniard Alvaro Alarcon Lizaur and naturalised Maltese Marco Matijevic dominant under their opponents’ basket.

Lizaur continued to shine, in offence, for Hibs as their lead went into double digits, 37-24, but two quick treys from Bonnici lifted Depiro’s morale as they changed ends at 30-37.

Hibs managed to defend their lead in the third quarter, even if this momentarily went down to a single point, 52-51, after a Kurt Xuereb three-pointer.

An early 8-2 Hibs run in the last quarter was quickly cancelled out by a 9-2 reply at the other end with a minute to go before the late drama unfolded as Depiro forced overtime.

Hibs coach Norbert Borg was certainly not pleased about those final moments.

“It was a close game throughout,” he said.

“In the last two minutes, we made a couple of turnovers and missed some important free-shots which unfortunately led Depiro to tie the score and go to overtime.”

Depiro now had a psychological edge and two Aquilina shots from downtown helped them to a 80-75 lead with Hibs missing a further two of four free throws.

The game lit up again when Simon Attard netted a trey for Hibs to reduce the deficit, 79-82, but young Timothy Zammit made sure of Depiro’s win with his second free-throw from two in the dying seconds of overtime.

Depiro: N. Grech, D. Bugeja 21, R. Bonnici 11, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 12, S. Zammit,  T. Zammit 1, M. Mallia, DJ Mason 23, K. Xuereb 10, M. Borg, D. Scafidi 5.

Hibernians: P. Attard, M. Hampton, A. Micallef 9, L. Farrugia 3, S. Attard 4, I. Bonett , K. Sultana, R. Carabott 2, M. Matijevic 23, F. Mariani 2, A. Lizaur 36.

Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, E. Ozpolat.

Floriana MCP CAR PARKS 83
Gżira Athleta 67

(15-17, 14-13, 36-11, 18-26)

This was a game of three facets with a balanced first half, then Floriana completely outscoring their opponents in the third quarter with a plus 25 in 10 minutes of play but then Gżira Athleta reopening the game with a 19-0 break at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Greens managed to bounce back with a 12-4 run to record their second consecutive league win and the first over Gżira Athleta after five encounters so far this season.

Floriana, who only had seven players in their line-up, forged ahead at 9-4 with initial hoops from ex-Athleta Shawn Pace and Anton Axiaq as well as a long-distance shot from Nikola Vasovic who ended as the game’s top scorer together with team-mate Chad Patus on 25 points.

After an early time-out, Gżira Athleta started finding their touch and managed to move ahead for the first time, 11-9.

The first quarter wrapped up with Athleta enjoying a single basket lead at 17-15, American Josiah Whitehead grabbing three consecutive mid-range hoops.

The Greens had the better start in the second quarter, going on an 8-0 run, including a brace of baskets from Sean Borg but Athleta clawed back into the game and, by the change of ends, they were again in front, albeit a very marginal lead, 30-29.

When play resumed for the third quarter, Floriana practically annihilated their opponents when they set off with 10 consecutive points, thanks to their high-scoring duo Patus/Vasovic, and then registered a noteworthy 19-2 run in the last three minutes of the same quarter so that there were 24 points separating the two sides, 65-41, with 10 minutes remaining.

When many thought the game was over, Athleta had other ideas, registering 19 consecutive points in just four minutes of play with David Camilleri inspiring this break with guard/power forward duo Peter Shoults and Michael Naudi contributing the other points.

With the score now 65-60, the game was again wide open but Floriana managed to produce a response.

Three-pointers from Patus and Vasovic helped them to an important 12-4 run in just over three minutes as the Greens reopened a sizeable lead at 77-64 to all but seal the issue.

Floriana: C. Patus 25, S. Pace 7, S. Borg 12, N. Vasovic 25, C. Calleja 4, A. Axiaq 10, N. Andrejevic.

Gżira Athleta: M. Naudi 17, R. Vella 6, D. Camilleri 6, L. Stefanovic, P. Shoults 13, B. Zammit 4, J. Bos, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead  21.

Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Marjanovic.

Third-quarter burst

BUPA Luxol 89
Starlites Naxxar 68

(25-21, 17-19, 26-15, 21-13)

A strong end to the third quarter was crucial for BUPA Luxol to open a double-digit advantage over Starlites which was then maintained in the last quarter, thanks also to accurate free-throw shooting.

Luxol, who lined up just six players for the match, were the nippier side in getting the initial points as they got off to an early 11-5 lead after a Keith Dimech trey, the first of 12 long-distance shots netted by Luxol in the whole game.

Although Starlites reacted, mainly through their Serbian point guard Ivan Mitrovic, Luxol retained their lead at 25-21 after 10 minutes following further three-pointers from Swede William Ahlberg, the game’s top scorer, as well as local guard Jean Paul Schembri.

Play was again balanced in the second quarter with American Pierce Cumpstone being more in evidence in Luxol’s offence while young duo Jacob Formosa/Nikola Stankovic obtained a number of hoops at the other end.

The first half ended with Luxol 42-40 ahead.

Both sides were raining three pointers at the start of the third quarter and the gap was further reduced to a solitary point, 54-53, after six minutes.

However, Luxol hit a positive patch as they recorded a 14-2 break till the end of the quarter to go 68-55 in front.

Try as they might, Starlites could not get closer than eight points away in the last quarter, and even then, Luxol managed to pull clear as they potted six consecutive free-shots and a last trey from Cumpstone.

Luxol: J. Maistrè Melillo, J.P. Schembri 12, K. Dimech 11, W. Ahlberg 30, P. Cumpstone 26, S. Cappello 10.

Starlites: I. Mitrovic 26, M. Azzopardi, I. Pace, A. Schembri, C. Schembri, M. Falzon 6, A. Felice Pace 2, Z. Stankovic, J. Formosa 15, N. Stankovic 19, T. Grech.

Referees: G. Barbara, S. Micallef, Z. Dobro-savljevic.

Standings
Floriana MCP Car Parks 4; BUPA Luxol, Cynergi Depiro, Gżira Athleta, Starlites Naxxar 3; Hibernians 2.

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