Starlites Naxxar GiG 94
(19-24, 15-30, 21-23, 28-17)
Starlites Naxxar GIG maintained their positive winning streak as they registered their seventh win and are comfortably poised for a play-off spot.
The Naxxar side had to survive an initial scare as Depiro set off on a very bright, energetic note opening a 19-10 lead after seven minutes of play with TJ Atwood showing immediately that he had a hot hand on the day and Miguel Mallia adding a tris of hoops.
However, Starlites managed to find their momentum by the end of the first quarter when they closed off with a 14-point streak with Travis McConico and Alec Felice Pace shooting on target.
A further nine-point run at the start of the second quarter increased Starlites’ lead to double figures and put more pressure on Depiro. The latter incurred moments where they fell victim to their opponent’s full court press and committed turnovers.
Atwood was consistently trying to keep the Mtarfa side in the game yet a further positive stretch by Starlites, this time an 11-point run, including buckets from Bryan Jefferson and Matthew Scerri, made it a
20-point margin, 54-34, at the interval.
The game, however, remained lively in the second half with both teams showing motivation to run the floor. The third quarter saw both teams replying almost continually to each other with Cliff Thomas assisting Atwood, who had a season-high of 50 points, at one end, and Starlites maintaining their first half trend as they could rely on their lead.
James Bamfield’s squad showed character when they passed through a bright patch at the start of the final quarter as they reduced the deficit by half with a 15-3 run in five minutes for 70-81.
Yet, a respective brace of hoops from McConico and Jefferson moved Starlites comfortably in front with the clock running out.
The race for the play-off spots is now in full swing and the coming game day provides interesting encounters.
Depiro and Mellieha (81-72 in the first round) square off with the latter needing a win to keep their slim hopes alive but Depiro know well that only a victory will keep them in the race for the play-offs.
Gżira Athleta, who have played the most games together with Mellieħa, face rivals BUPA Luxol. The latter won the first-round game 78-72 and both sides know that a win will put them a bit at ease in the play-off race.
In the other game, Hibs need to dig deep into their resources to try to register their fourth win although they face leaders Starlites. It was a tight 82-80 win for the Naxxar side in the first round.
Depiro: T.J. Attwood 50, C. Thomas 15, A. Attard 5, N. Grech, K. Caruana 1, M. Brincat, M. Mallia 12, A. Chomo, M. Debattista, L. Vella.
Starlites: A. Felice Pace 21, J. Zammit 2, R. Bonnici 6, M. Formosa, M. Scerri 6, R. Carabott, B. Jefferson 24, T. McConico 31, R. Ahearn 4.
Referees: B. Vassallo, K. Dworniczak, M. Hraisha.
Starlites Naxxar GiG 7/0; Gzira Athleta 4/4; Hibs, Depiro, BUPA Luxol 3/4; Mellieħa Libertas Spalding 2/6.