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Starlites remain unbeaten as Hibs back to winning ways

Hibs player Marie Buhagiar goes for the basket despite the challenge of Antoinette Borg. Photo: Wally Galea

ARMS Depiro 48
Starlites Naxxar GiG 64

(2-23, 12-8, 9-22, 25-11)

Unbeaten leaders Starlites Naxxar GiG stopped ARMS Depiro’s two-game winning streak and also ascertained themselves mathematically of the top spot at the end of the regular league thereby gaining an advantage in the resulting play-offs.

The first quarter was extremely influential as the Naxxar side were totally superior to their opponents and they marched to a commanding 23-2 lead after the initial ten minutes of effective play.

Centre Josephine Diaby netted half a dozen hoops in this first rubber whilst team-mates Patricia Arguello and Stephanie Demartino had a respective poker of points.

Depiro looked a surprised lot and their only positive conclusion in these 10 minutes came off import player Hannah Johnson after eight minutes.

Depiro somewhat improved in the second rubber where they outscored Starlites 12-8 with Nicole Agius helping Johnson to notch most of the Mtarfa-based side’s points whilst Maria Bonett potted all the victors hoops with the interval buzzer having David Baudot’s side leading 31-14.

A further reaction from Depiro was not forthcoming after the break.

On the contrary, Starlites closed the game off completely when they registered a 13-point streak in five minutes to open a hefty 30-point margin, 44-14.

The last 15 minutes of the game were practically a formality with Depiro managing to reduce the margin by half with a 25-point final quarter as Starlites also introduced U-16 duo, Martina Sciberras and Andrea Saliba, with both also managing to grab a basket and freeshot respectively.

Depiro now will brace themselves for the last two games of the regular season where there is a tight race for the final two play-off spots.

On the other hand, Starlites will now lay their eyes on preparing for the KO Final which is to be played today at 4.15pm where they will face Hibernians.

Depiro: No. Agius, M.Caruana 3, N. Agius 7, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 3, C. Ciantar 4, J. Xerri 5, N. Hili 12, H. Johnson 14, N. Borg , E. Cassar.
Starlites: M. Sciberras 2, C. Cilia 2, K. Pirotta, S. Farrugia 2, M. Bonett 10, S. Demartino 17, C. Curmi, J. Diaby 19, P. Arguello 6, D. Camilleri 3, S. Davies 2, A. Saliba 1.
Referees: K. Dworniczak, I. Ciurariu, N. Xuereb

Hibernians 73
Caffe Moak Luxol 56
(13-15, 16-11, 21-9, 23-21)

Hibernians managed to return to winning ways after quite a long streak of league losses, obtaining an important second win, out of three games, over Caffe Moak Luxol.

The win is key for the Paolites as they now know that they would have the advantage should the two teams end with equal points in the standings after the regular season.

The two sides had already met twice this season with Hibs winning the first-round encounter 83-45 only for Luxol to come out 83-78 victors in the second-round match.

The third-round game had a very balanced start with both teams practically continuously head to head until the second minute in the second half.

Here, Hibs outscored Luxol 16-1 in the next six minutes of play, thereby opening a 17-point lead.

Under pressure, Luxol did manage to claw somewhat back into the game and come twice to a seven-point deficit but Hibs hit back with a 7-0 run and more superiority under the boards which put them clearly in the driving seat.

Veteran Samantha Brincat was a driving force for the Paolites although guard Jasmine Abela found space to notch a number of long-distance shots whilst Kirsty Caruana also had a double-digit game including her side’s first seven points in the second quarter.

Luxol relied a lot on their import guard Kali Koenig with Cristina Sollami and Antoinette Borg assisting her well in the first half where Luxol also enjoyed momentary leads and where just three points adrift, 29-32, in the 22nd minute.

Hibs’ import centre Daphnee Frieson started off Hibs’ influential run at this junction and six minutes later, the Paolites were 47-30 ahead.

Luxol tried to reopen the game with a positive spurt at the start of the final quarter, coming to 47-54, but a brace of Brincat hoops re-established a Hibs’ double-digit lead and they then moved on to cement their victory, just a few days ahead their KO final against Starlites today.

Hibernians: I. Agius 4, Y. Bonett 4, S. Brincat 19, B. Agius, J. Abela 16, C. Camilleri, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 17, M. Buhagiar, Cl. Camilleri 2, D. Frieson 11.
Luxol: V. Selvaggi, A. Mifsud, C. Sollami 9, N. Vella 2, F.
Camilleri, H. Galea, K. Portelli 2, A. Borg 10, M. Camilleri, K. Koenig 31, M. Grech, M. Pollacco 2.
Referees: D. Torok, K. Dworniczak, M. Hraisha

Standings

Starlites Naxxar GiG 6/0; ARMS Depiro 3/4; Hibernians 2/5; Caffe Moak Luxol 2/4

NEXT FIXTURES

TODAY
BOV KO Semi-final Men 11.45am BUPA Luxol vs Starlites Naxxar GiG; 2pm Mellieħa Libertas Spalding vs Gżira Athleta.

MAPFRE MSV Life Women KO final 4.15pm Hibs vs Starlites Naxxar GiG.

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