Game day two from the BOV Men’s League brought the first wins for BUPA Luxol and Hibernians while Starlites GiG took a solitary early campaign leading spot when they remained as the only unbeaten side in the table.
BUPA Luxol 72
Mellieħa Libertas Spalding 62
(15-15, 15-17, 26-8, 16-22)
In the first match, BUPA Luxol banked on a superior third quarter performance where they managed to open a double-digit lead over Mellieħa Libertas Spalding which was then extended to 69-46 midway in the final quarter.
Although Mellieħa regrouped their efforts and staged a late run, this was not enough to topple Luxol who missed a series of shots from the charity line in the final stages of the encounter.
Mellieħa, still awaiting the medical clearance of a new US import player, were coming from an overtime win over Hibernians on the opening day and were battling at par with their opponents in the first half.
Ex-Luxol player Vukasin Jandric set them off with Nenad Stojanovski and Klemen Skrabec contributing for an early 15-12 lead.
A Kyree Elder trey, the game’s top point-getter, gave the Violets a mid-second quarter lead and despite Luxol missing a number of free throws, they still managed to hold on until the final seconds of the first half when a Peter Shoults trey moved them towards a 32-30 half-time lead.
The third rubber had Luxol take a definite lead with Mellieħa also missing a number of long-distance attempts.
Treys from Elder and Jean Paul Schembri helped Luxol in a 10-0 run as centre Arsenio Arrington also contributed with a handful of close-range hoops and helped his team clear the defensive boards.
Inspired by Shoults and a brace of Isaac Bonett’s actions, Mellieħa attempted a last-ditch attempt as they registered a 13-0 run but Luxol could bank on their previous 20 point-margin to obtain their first victory after a marginal first day loss against Starlites.
Luxol: J. Cefai 2, K. Gauci, N. Buhagiar, E. Caruana Montaldo, J.P. Schembri 8, L. Trapani, I. Pace 3, K. Elder 32, S. Opejlevic, A. Arrington 16, S. Cappello 11.
Mellieħa: A. Schembri 3, V. Jandric 17, M. Falzon, P. Shoults 14, M. Azzopardi, I. Bonett 10, C. Briffa, M. Gauci Montaldo, N. Stojanovski 10, K. Skrabec 6.
Refs: B. Vassallo, D. Torok, L. Camilleri.
(16-16, 22-15, 30-16,16-21)
Hibernians bounced back after their opening day loss to grab a victory over Depiro who fell back in the third quarter when the Paolites, who fielded a total local side as their Serb centre Ivan Demcesen did not play, were on a positive day as regards long-distance shooting.
In fact, five treys moved them to a commanding 68-47 lead at the end of third quarter.
The first quarter ended at par, even though Hibs set off with the first nine points of the game with Nikola Vasovic having a hot hand.
Luke Farrugia added five points but Depiro gradually started picking up their momentum, with their imports Marlon Sierra and Cliff Thomas getting into the picture, Miguel Mallia banging in two consecutive hoops and an Andy Attard late and-one play.
A six-point run gave Depiro the lead but Hibs hit back with a double-margin streak and then maintained the tempo for a 38-31 interval lead.
With Keith Dimech settling in more and also banging his shots, Vasovic continuing with his personal tally and Kieron Caruana netting two consecutive treys, Hibs managed to further extend their lead.
Depiro mentor James Bamfield tried hard to inspire his side to perform better and they did manage to reduce the margin to 61-73, but Hibs were quick to take the upperhand again with five points off David Bugeja and final points off Axiaq and Matijevic to ascertain themselves of the win.
Hibs: P. Attard 3, D. Bugeja 15, K. Caruana 9, L. Farrugia 9, N. Vasovic 17, A. Axiaq 9, M. Matijevic 9, K. Dimech 13, N. Cassar, M. Attard, I. Demcesen.
Depiro: M. Sierra 14, C. Thomas 13, M. Agius, D. Pisani, A. Attard 7, N. Grech, D. Farrugia, K. Xuereb 8, M. Borg, M. Brincat 3, M. Mallia 12, A. Chomo 11.
Refs: G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic, V. Nikolic.
Gżira Athleta 66
Starlites GiG 77
(16-17, 18-25, 23-15,9-20)
The final score might lead some to think this might have been an easy win for Starlites GiG, but this was not the case. Gżira battled out practically all the way and it was only a final eight-point streak that led to Starlites’ double-digit final margin.
Gżira paraded their two new foreign imports who had missed the opening day. Dylan Causwell set off immediately after a game opening trey from Bobby Ahearn at the opposite end. Two Causwell buckets followed by Dedrian Parmer Jr’s first hoop paved the way to an initial ten-point Athleta run with Nathan Xuereb and Matthew Gouder notching the other buckets.
After a three-minute basket drought, Starlites managed to reply with hoops from Travis McConico and Alec Felice Pace which helped them to a marginal 17-16 first-quarter lead.
It was practically a tit-for-tat in the second rubber as the two sides replied constantly to each other until the final moments of the half when treys from Matthew Scerri and Felice Pace moved the Naxxar side to a 42-34 interval lead.
The first part of the third quarter had Starlites, who had their coach Paul Ferrante unavailable for this game, maintaining the lead at 53-44. But here, Gżira Athleta had a positive streak to first level the game with a nine-point run with Causwell and Parmer also notching a respective trey.
When play restarted, it was Starlites who jumped again ahead with 8 points on the trot, in four minutes of play, including a hoop from Jack Zammit and a brace from McConico.
Yet Gżira were not to be undone as they made it a tight 66-69 game with two
minutes to go.
However, Starlites made some good use of their offensive rebounds as Zammit had a close range hoop and McConico notched the game’s last six points, four from the free throw, to move the Naxxar side to solitary top spot.
Gżira Athleta: D. Causewell 31, D. Parmer 10, N. Bukva 2, F. Mifsud Bonnici, P. Cefai, L. Stefanovic, S. Galea, N. Xuereb 16, M. Gouder 7, S. Vincic, J. Wait, R. Abela
Starlites: A. Felice Pace 12, J. Zammit 8, B. Zammit, R. Bonnici 2, I. Felice Pace 4, M. Fabri, M. Vella, M. Scerri 7, R. Carabott 1, T. McConico 27, A. Xuereb, R. Ahearn 16
Refs: B. Vassallo, K. Dworniczak, I. Simic
Starlites GiG (2-0); Hibs, BUPA Luxol, Depiro, Mellieha Libertas Spalding (1-1); Gżira Athleta (0-2).
November 21: Starlites GiG vs Mellieħa Libertas Spalding.
November 22: Depiro vs BUPA Luxol; Gżira Athleta vs Hibs.