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Watch: Hibs, Athleta set for tight final

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

The BOV Men’s League reaches its decisive stage on Sunday when Gżira Athleta and Hibernians will face each other in game on of the play-off final series at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion (kick-off: 4.15pm).

This season’s title showdown brings against each other two of the main protagonists in the men’s game as while Gżira Athleta were the top performers in the regular season, after finishing as the undisputed leaders before the start of the play-offs.

On the other hand, Hibernians have enjoy Cup success this season, winning a treble of titles after lifting the Knock-Out, the Louis Borg Cup and the MBA shield but have now set their sights on ending a 28-year-wait to win the league title.

Ray Muscat, in his first year as Gżira Athleta coach, said that he was looking forward to the final series but shrugged off suggestions that they should be tipped as favourites after finishing the regular season in top spot.

“I am very pleased to have led Gżira to the play-off final,” Muscat said.

“After a rather difficult start to the season, the team settled down nicely and we improved with every game that we played and that was mirrored by our top position at the end of the regular season.

“But come the play-off final series all that was achieved before will mean nothing as the championship will be won on the basis of what both teams achieve during the five-game series.

“Hibs have a very strong side but I’m confident in my team’s ability. Our team is made up of a good mix of experienced and young players and if we’re physically and mentally strong we can win this series.”

On his part, Gżira’s foreign player Jon Meiler said that it’s difficult to pick a favourite.

“I’m looking forward to what promises to be a very tight series,” Meyer said.

“This season, we had some very exciting matches with Hibs which all finished with a very close score so it looks like it’s going to be a great battle and hopefully we can bring the trophy home.”

Nadia Vella, the Hibs general secretary, said that the club are experiencing a very successful season but admitted that winning the league title is ‘what it’s all about’ for the Paolites.

“This has been a season of success for our clubs, having won three trophies so far. But winning the title is what every team works for. Winning the title for the title would be a huge achievement as it has been 28 years since we have last lifted the trophy.

“During this period, the men’s team had been disbanded and after a long spell in the second division, it was only last season that we started to invest in the side and to reach the final in our second year is a great feat.

“It’s not going to be easy as Athleta have beaten us three times in the league this season but we will surely go for it.”

Hibs player Chad Patus (left) and Jon Feiler, of Gżira Athleta, hold the trophy.  Photo: Matthew MirabelliHibs player Chad Patus (left) and Jon Feiler, of Gżira Athleta, hold the trophy.  Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Team chemistry

Chad Patus, Hibs’ import player, is banking on the team’s chemistry to secure his second personal championship trophy, after winning the title with Athleta few years back.

“This year’s play-off final series will be a great experience for all of us and I’m sure that it will be a great spectacle for the people who will be coming to watch us,” the Canadian said.

“At Hibs this year there has been a great chemistry between the players on and off the pitch and surely that could be a determinant factor for us to win the title.”

On his part, Paul Sultana, the MBA president, said that he is anticipating a very tight final showdown.

“We’re looking forward to the play-off final series between two very strong teams and we’re anticipating a very balanced series,” Sultana said.

“Although Gżira Athleta have topped the regular season, Hibernians have gone from strength to strength and I firmly believe that this year’s title showdown will be decided in Game 5.

“I hope that the two teams will provide a spectacle of basketball and that the best team wins.”

 

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