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Luxol edge Hibs to set up Starlites semi-final in men’s KO final

Kyree Elder goes for the basket against Hibernians. Photo: Wally Galea

Hibernians      81

BUPA Luxol     84

(13-23, 20-25, 19-10, 29-31) 

BUPA Luxol had to fight hard until the closing seconds of the game to progress to the next stage in the BOV Knock-Out competition.

Hibernians, similarly to what had happened only three days earlier in the league encounter against Starlites, staged another second-half comeback only to fall just short at the end. 

Although Hibs dominated underneath the boards, especially the offensive ones through Ivan Demcesen’s height and strength advantage, it was Luxol’s superior shooting percentage from inside the arc that proved the winning factor.

The Violets were once again led by a fine shooting display from Kyree Elder who notched more than half his side’s point tally. 

It was Elder who started the game with a three-ball that followed an early hoop but Hibs took an early lead with Nikola Vasovic doing likewise and Demcesen adding close range baskets. 

Three Arsenio Arrington buckets helped Luxol re-establish the lead as they managed to open a double-digit margin, 23-13, after ten minutes of play. 

With Luxol’s import duo continuing their scoring plays assisted also by local guard Jean Paul Schembri, this lead extended to a 39-22 scoreline midway in the second quarter. 

Marko Matijevic, coming off the bench, was instrumental in a Hibs 11-0 streak but in the first half’s final minute, Elder was again on fire with nine points, including a last second four-point play after hitting a three-pointer off the glass and was even unnecessarily fouled in the process. 

Luxol set off again on a positive note in the second half and midway in the third quarter, they had a maximum 56-36 lead.

But here, Hibs started their comeback with a 15-0 run in the space of only four minutes with centres Demcesen and Matijevic as well as forward David Bugeja getting the points. 

Two early Stefan Capello baskets in the final quarter gave some breathing space to Luxol for 62-52. But Hibs kept their belief and managed to draw level 76-76 with two minutes until the final game buzzer. 

As the clock entered its last rotation, Vasovic made it a tight one-point game but Juan Cefai grabbed his only bucket, from the long distance at the other end. 

With seconds ticking, Demcesen gave fresh hopes to the Paolites but Elder was then fouled to stop the clock. He buried the first free throw and even managed to secure the rebound after the second to ascertain his side’s victory and a tie against Starlites Naxxar in the semi-finals. 

The other quarter final, Mellieha Libertas vs Depiro, was posptoned to a later date due to COVID-19. 

HIBERNIANS: P. Attard, D. Bugeja 10, K. Caruana, L. Farrugia 3, N. Cassar, N. Vasovic 22, A. Axiaq 2, M. Matijevic 15, K. Dimech 7, M. Attard, I. Demcesen 22. 

CAFE MOAK Luxol: J. Cefai 3, K. Gauci, A. Ciotti, N. Buhagiar, E. Caruana Montaldo, J.P. Schembri 12, L. Trapani, I. Pace 4, K. Elder 43, S. Opejlevic, A. Arrington 12, S. Cappello 10. 

Refs: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic.

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