Caffe Moak Luxol 83
(14-17, 16-18, 22-14, 17-20; 14-9)
This high-scoring, balanced game, which was ultimately decided after an overtime period, demonstrated clearly how the fate and momentum of a whole game can drastically change in a span of merely a few seconds.
Nearing the end of regulation time, Hibs were administering a three-point lead with Luxol unable to find the right scoring touch. Resorting to stop the clock, Luxol fouled with eight seconds to go, risking the two resulting free throws.
This gamble paid off as Hibs missed both attempts from the charity line and Luxol’s import guard Kali Koenig grabbed the rebound and progressed diagonally, on her main left-hand side, up the court.
Despite not in foul bonus, Hibs did not use fouls to stop the play and allowed Koenig to fire a last ditch long distance shot which found nothing but net and forced overtime with both sides tied at 69-69.
Luxol were a motivated squad when play restarted, and treys from Koenig and Kayleigh Portelli moved them to a seven-point lead which they then maintained till the final buzzer to move to the second spot in the league standings, leaving Hibs to share the next rung with a single win similar to Depiro.
The game had set off on a balanced note until Hibs managed to open a double-digit lead midway in the second quarter after treys from Marie Buhagiar and Jasmine Abela and a brace of Kirsty Caruana hoops.
It was only a late first-half 7-0 streak that helped Claudio Massari’s Violets to make it a 30-35 half-time scoreline.
With Cristina Sollami aiding Koenig in grabbing points from inside the key, Luxol managed to outscore their opponents in the third quarter and even pip 52-49 ahead with ten minutes to go.
With the game nearing the end of the 40 regulation minutes, two Iona Agius baskets followed by a Ylenia Bonett hoop saw Hibs regain the lead and a last minute Caruana free throw after a Luxol technical foul had the Paolites 69-66 ahead until the final seconds led to overtime.
Luxol: A. Mifsud 3, P. Ellul 6, N. Vella, M. Pollacco 2, L. Caruana Montaldo, S. Vella 4, K. Portelli 7, A. Borg 11, H. Galea, M. Grech, C. Sollami 16, K. Koenig 34.
Hibs: Cl. Camilleri, E. Farrugia, I. Agius 12, Y. Bonett 13, J. Dabic, S. Brincat 8, B. Agius, J. Abela 15, C. Camilleri, N. Farrugia 5, K. Caruana 19, M. Buhagiar 6.
Referees: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosavljevic, K. Dworniczak
Starlites Naxxar GiG 78
ARMS Depiro 61
(9-22, 19-12, 22-14, 28-13)
ARMS Depiro, despite having both import player Hannah Johnson and coach Ruben Baldacchino unavailable, had a very energetic start with a trio of Claire Ciantar hoops helping them to an early lead and then a brace of Monique Caruana treys saw the Mtarfa side 19-6 ahead after nine minutes of play.
With Starlites missing a series of free throws, Depiro managed to extend their lead to an impressive 27-9, two minutes into the second quarter, after a Julia Borg bucket.
Facing such a large early deficit, the league leaders hit back in a strong manner and reopened the game in the space of seven minutes of play with a 19-4 run with Stephanie Demartino, similar to the first quarter,
continuing to pound on the baskets assisted by Spaniard Patricia Arguello and local zone players Josephine Diaby and Christina Curmi.
Late efforts by young Neve Borg, however, helped Depiro to go in for the interval with a six-point buffer, 34-28.
An 11-0 streak early in the second half from the tandem Demartino/Arguello overturned the score in the Naxxar’s side favour. But right up to the end of the third quarter it was a tit-for-tat game as the two sides maintained close contact with a solitary basket separating the two sides all the time.
Two small but decisive streaks of seven and six points apiece catapulted David Baudot’s Starlites side to a double-digit lead with five minutes to the final buzzer as Depiro could not maintain their earlier focus and pace.
On the other hand, Starlites made good use of their rebounding superiority and better precision from the long range.
Michela Zammit Cordina was on fire in the last quarter and her two treys, similar to Arguello, ascertained Starlites fourth league win on the trot.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 13, C. Cilia, A. Micallef 2, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett 2, S. DeMartino 26, C. Curmi 4, J. Diaby 10, P. Arguello 16, K. Pirotta, S. Davies 5, N. Schembri.
Depiro: No. Agius, M. Caruana 8, N. Agius 12, L. Duncan 6, J. Borg 6, C. Ciantar 13, J. Xerri 4, N. Hili 4, J. Mallia, N. Borg 8, E. Cassar.
Referees: G. Barbara, I. Simic, V. Nikolic.
Hibernians vs Starlites 13.30
Depiro vs Luxol 15.45
Starlites Naxxar GiG (4-0); Caffe Moak Luxol (2-2); ARMS Depiro, Hibernians (1-3)