Hibs and Athleta reach final
Starlites Naxxar 65
(18-19, 25-19, 16-17, 6-24)
Hibernians became the first finalists of the BOV KO for men this season after they beat Starlites in an entertaining semi-final where the last quarter proved crucial to determine the winners.
In fact, after Hibs had the initial lead, it was Starlites who held the upperhand for 15 minutes up to the start of the final quarter.
The game got off to a sprightly start with points coming freely at both ends. And the balance prevailed at the start of the second period with Hibs maintaining a slender lead at 29-26 after four minutes and a Starlites timeout.
Eight points shared between Jacob Formosa and Alec Felice Pace put Starlites in front and they preserved their lead up till the interval – 43-38.
The third quarter was tight although Starlites always managed to keep their noses in front.
However, Hibs seemed to be the fresher side in the last quarter as they surprised their opponents with a 9-0 run which overturned the score in their favour.
Although Nikola Stankovic halted Hibs’ run with a basket, Starlites could not react in the right way and a further seven unanswered points in the next two minutes put Hibs in the driving seat with a double digit lead and just two minutes remaining.
Hibs then controlled Starlites’ final efforts to make their way to the final.
Starlites: I. Mitrovic 20, M. Azzopardi, L. Vella, A. Schembri 1, C. Schembri 2, M. Falzon, A. Felice Pace 13, N. Stankovic 14, J. Formosa 15, M. Vella, T. Grech.
Hibs: P. Attard, M. Hampton, E. Xuereb, L. Farrugia 5, S. Attard 2, I. Bonett, K. Sultana, A. Micallef 16, M. Matijevic 22, S. Vella, F. Mariani 6, A. Lizaur 28.
Referees: B. Vassallo, S. Micallef, C. Farrugia.
Floriana MCP Car Parks 55
Gżira Athleta 68
(6-18, 17-17, 24-18, 8-15)
Athleta made it to the fourth final this season after beating Floriana in a cup tie played in cold conditions as most of the players took some time to find their touch, particularly the Greens.
After closing the first period 12 points in arrears, Floriana opened with a Chad Patus bucket and a Shawn Pace trey in the second quarter for 11-18 but Athleta replied with a nine-point break to re-open a double digit lead.
Although the Greens managed to stop this break, it was still the Maroons that held control till the interval with the score standing at 35-23.
This margin was consistent in the first part of the third quarter after a brace of Roderick Vella baskets kept Athleta 45-27 in the lead.
Floriana’s best patch came in the next minutes when they outscored their opponents 16-5 and then late in the same quarter points from Patus and Vasovic cut the deficit to just five points – 47-52.
A 7-0 run, coming off Whitehead and Shoults, in the first four minutes of the last quarter gave fresh impetus to Athleta as a comfortable lead was re-established, forcing Floriana for another early time-out.
They did regain some fresh hope when a Patus basket came between two Pace shots for a 55-62 scoreline but Athleta ascertained the win with the last six points of the game to make sure of their place in the January 29 final.
Floriana: C. Patus 14, S. Pace 12, S. Borg, N. Vasovic 15, C. Calleja 6, A. Axiaq 6, A. Micallef Trigona 2, N. Andrejevic.
Athleta: M. Naudi 10, R. Vella 15, D. Camilleri 3, L. Stefanovic, P. Shoults 12, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit, J. Bos, S. Vincic, N. Lubrano 2, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 26.
Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, E. Ozpolat.