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Starlites Naxxar retain Knock Out trophy

Starlites players pose with the trophy. Photo: Wally Galea

Hibernians 63
Starlites Naxxar GiG 83

(9-22, 20-13, 15-26, 19-22)

The MAPFRE MSV Life KO trophy remained on the Starlites’ shelves after the latter notched a repeat success after overcoming Hibernians’ resistance in the first major final in the senior categories this season.

This is Starlites Naxxar GiG’s third triumph in this competition, following a maiden achievement in 1999 and last year’s win.

Hibs did try their best to stay in the game even if Starlites had a strong start to the final moving to an early 12-2 lead with Maria Bonett notching a tris of hoops.

Josephine Diaby, who was voted as the final’s Most Valuable Player, added a brace and Spaniard play caller Patricia Arguello potting the other basket.

By the end of the first quarter, the Naxxar side was enjoying a 22-9 advantage but, inspired by Samantha Brincat’s fine performance, the Paolites staged a positive recovery as treys by the same Brincat as well as strong play by the import centre Daphne Frieson along with encouraging plays from young Marie Buhagiar, Kirsty Caruana and Ylenia Bonett, had the game margin shrink down to just five points.

An 8-0 run was registered by Starlites exactly after the interval so as to reopen a double-digit margin.

Although Hibs, who were not as accurate in their field goal percentage and also at this juncture missed six free throws in a row, had two three balls from Jasmine Abela, the victors maintained the upper edge with young guard Andrea Saliba also potting a respective free-throw, basket and trey and together with Stephanie Demartino helped their side to move to a significant 20-point lead, 59-39.

Given this margin, David Baudot, Starlites’ coach, had to administer the game accordingly in the last quarter.

Hibs did not throw in the towel, trying to increase their point tally, and kept going till the final buzzer.

Starlites kept their cool and rotated also all their players, although they also had two regulars, Michela Zammit Cordina and Anthea Micallef, missing due to COVID-19 matters.

After the final, MAPFRE MSV Life’s Chief Officer Business Development Michael Galea, assisted by the MBA Secretary Joseph Muscat, presented the winners’ medals, the MVP award and the winning trophy to the jubilant Starlites clan.

Hibs: I. Agius 4, Y. Bonett 4, S. Brincat 24, B. Agius, J. Abela 9, C. Camilleri, E. Farrugia, N. Farrugia 1, K. Caruana 7, M. Buhagiar 7, Cl. Camilleri, D. Frieson 7.  
Starlites: C. Cilia 4, K. Pirotta, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett 12, S. DeMartino 19, C. Curmi 4, J. Diaby 19, P. Arguello 17, K. Mifsud 2, S. Davies, A. Saliba 6.   

Referees: B. Vassallo, K. Dworniczak, F. Ciurariu.

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