GŻIRA ATHLETA 98
(21-12, 27-17, 34-21, 16-17)
A 14-0 streak, including four treys, midway in the second quarter was the determining moment in this match as this run moved Gżira Athleta to a commanding 21-point lead and it was thereafter an uphill struggle for Depiro.
This was the only match in the programme of this league match day as the two other scheduled games, namely Hibs vs Mellieħa Libertas Spalding and BUPA Luxol vs Starlites Naxxar GiG were postponed due to COVID-19.
Gżira Athleta somewhat recovered from a difficult start to the season and this win over Depiro has helped them to move at the top of the standings albeit playing two more games than second-placed Starlites Naxxar who are still unbeaten after four games.
On the other hand, Depiro remain with two wins at par with Hibs and a game behind Luxol in the standings.
Dedrian Parmer, who retuned on the court after missing the mid-week game against Luxol due to a shoulder injury, had a tris of hoops in the middle part of the first rubber to help Athleta to a 6-2 run which gave them their first lead in the game.
An and-one play by Dylan Causwell followed by a three-ball from Matthew Gouder and a quarter-ending hoop from Nathan Xuereb moved Gżira to a 21-12 first quarter lead.
The Mtarfa-based side, who had their play caller James Bamsfield back on the bench after missing their last outing against Mellieħa due to compulsory compulsory quarantine measures, tried their best to match their opponents’
One main factor in this game was the battle underneath the boards where Athleta outplayed Depiro both in the defensive and offensive boards. This coupled with the victors’ superior long-distance shooting distanced the two sides.
In fact, although Depiro tried to narrow the margin mainly through their foreign import duo T.J. Atwood and Cliff Thomas and had the score at 16-23 early in the second quarter, Athleta here made a decisive move towards the win as they had four treys in a row, two from Xuereb and one respectively from Causwell and Parmer. The latter added a field goal for a 14-0 run in three minutes of play.
Depiro did recover but Athleta still kept on pounding at par for a 19-point margin at the interval, 48-29.
When play restarted, there seemed to be a push by Depiro to recover some lost ground yet Athleta did not allow their margin to be eaten away and then literally destroyed any Depiro hopes when they registered a 12-2 run, with locals Xuereb and Gouder continuing to contribute offensively.
It was game over at this point and the two sides shared the last quarter with Gżira Athleta coming just short of the century mark.
With the regular league reduced to two rounds this season, due to COVID-9 measures, it seems to be an interesting tussle for the four playoff spots with most sides, such as Hibs, Depiro and Starlites, deciding to have new import players in the January window to boost their squads.
GŻIRA ATHLETA: D. Parmer 27, F. Mifsud Bonnici 4, P. Cefai, L. Stefanovic 2, S. Galea 2, N. Xuereb 24, M. Gouder 14, I. Xuereb,
S. Vincic 2, D. Causwell 23, N. Bukva.
DEPIRO: T.J. Atwood 22, C. Thomas 28, D. Pisani, A. Attard 4, A. Chomo, D. Farrugia 1, K. Caruana 8, M. Brincat, M. Mallia 4.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, K. Dworniczak, I. Simic.
Standings: Gżira Athleta (3-3) 9; Starlites Naxxar GiG (4-0) 8; BUPA Luxol (3-2) 8; Depiro (2-3) 7; Hibernians (2-3) 7; Mellieħa Libertas Spalding (1-4) 6.