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Starlites, Gżira Athleta to contest Men’s KO final

Matthew Gouder, of Gżira Athleta, goes for the basket despite the challenge of Vukasin Jandric. Photo: Wally Galea

The 2021 BOV Men KO Final, scheduled for March 19, will be contested by Starlites Naxxar GiG and Gżira Athleta after they both achieved quite big century wins in their respective semi-finals.
BUPA Luxol 71
Starlites Naxxar GiG 100
(18-23, 12-28, 19-17, 22-32)

Two positive streaks, midway in the second and third quarter, were
influential for Starlites Naxxar GiG to distance themselves from BUPA Luxol after the latter had managed to somewhat keep up with their opponents’ tempo.

The game had a very encouraging start as the first quarter was very balanced with Luxol, who do not have as much depth of players as Starlites, were continually replying with precision.

Kyree Elder was tightly marked all throughout the game but was still effective at the opening stages.

Centre Arsenio Arrington had his moments, especially in the second half and both imports were assisted in the first rubber by Stefan Capello,
Jean Paul Schembri and Isaac Pace who had to leave the court injured early on.

Making use of their strengths after closing off the first quarter 23-18 ahead with a late Matthew Scerri three-ball, Starlites kept on pounding in the second quarter and treys from the Felice Pace brothers, Alec and Ian, blended well with the continuous initiatives from their Americans, Travis McConico and Bryan Jefferson.

A brace of late Jack Zammit led to a 51-30 score line at the interval.

Luxol came out with greater determination in the second half and had a momentary good spell.

But Starlites again took full command in the last quarter with a 15-3
run, and then administered the tempo until the final buzzer, managing also to reach the century mark in the dying seconds.

Luxol: J. Cefai 8, K. Gauci, P. Engelbert 2, N. Buhagiar 7, E. Caruana Montaldo, J.P. Schembri 5, L. Trapani, I. Pace 4, K. Elder 12, S. Ousman 2, A. Arrington 22, S. Cappello 9.   
Starlites: A. Felice Pace 19, J. Zammit 6, R. Bonnici, I. Felice Pace 12, M. Formosa, M. Scerri 9, R. Carabott 2, B. Jefferson 21, T. McConico 22, R. Ahearn 9. 

Referees: B. Vassallo, D. Torok, I. Simic.
Mellieha Libertas 59
Gżira Athleta 105
(13-29, 16-27, 18-20, 12-29)

Gżira Athleta surprised Mellieħa Libertas Spalding at the start of their semi-final.

With the Northerners not showing the same cohesion as their last outing and also suffering from the fact of having to call a very early time-out, it was the Maroons who were comfortably leading 29-10 after nine minutes of play.

Locals Nathan Xuereb and Matthew Gouder came out strong from the initial jump ball and then were subsequently joined by Deandre Parmer.

Melieħa’s hopes for a recovery suffered another setback at the start of the second quarter when Gżira opened with a 13-0 streak.

The Northerners, who mainly had Vukasin Jandric as their main offensive weapon, did try to find the right permutation of players on the court, introducing also the not-fully match-fit Julius Brooks whilst also having Peter Shoults limping off through injury.

But Gżira were firmly in the driving seat as they moved to a commanding 56-29 lead at half time.

The third rubber was the most balanced of the four but Gżira, who had Dylan Causewell causing damage under Mellieħa’s boards, never seemed in danger.

In fact, the Athleta kept on with their tempo and two further runs in the last quarter, 14-0 and 11-0, had them surpass the century mark off a brace of Stefan Vincic hoops and a series of David Labossiere buckets.

Mellieħa: A. Schembri 3, M. Falzon 4, V. Jandric 31, D. Camilleri, M. Fabri 3, I. Bonett, M. Gauci Montaldo 4, K. Skrabec, J. Brooks 10, M. Azzopardi 4, P. Shoults.

Gżira Athleta: D. Labossiere 20, D. Parmer 22, F. Mifsud Bonnici 5, P. Cefai, L. Stefanovic, S. Galea 4, N. Xuereb 19, M. Gouder 12, I. Xuereb, S. Vincic 4, D. Causewell 19, N. Bukva.

Referees: K. Dworniczak, D. Torok, I. Simic.

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