The best-of-three under 16 league final series had to go all the way following the initial 53-49 Starlites win in the first game last week as Gżira managed to momentarily tie the series with a convincing win.
Gżira Athleta produced a very solid and consistent performance in the second game. They showed the better ideas on the court in the latter stages of the game with superiority under the boards and a tight defence on their opponents’ danger players who could not find their same rhythm displayed a week before.
After a somewhat balanced start, Gżira managed to take the upper hand and open a comfortable 31-17 half-time lead.
Following the interval, Starlites managed to reduce the deficit to eight points by the end of the third quarter, 36-44.
But the game was not going to be taken away from Gżira Athleta with guard Justin Caruana persistently creating problems to the Starlites’ defence.
On the other hand, Gżira duo Isaac Xuereb and Jordan Ellul Dowling were finding the necessary space from close range to help their side to a solid last quarter display in what ended as an easy win to take the series to a
decider 24 hours later.
Game three had its own story where Gżira had the better start and even took an early lead.
Starlites increased in stature as time went by and banking on a number of Adam Azzopardi hoops, they even went ahead, 28-25, at the interval.
The game, and eventually the championship, was practically decided in the third quarter when Starlites Mazars dominated the tempo and managed to open an important double-digit lead with two Sebastian Pace three-balls proving to be quite important at this juncture.
Gżira just managed a brace of buckets in ten minutes of play to end up trailing 29-43 with just a quarter to go.
Athleta attempted their last push but Starlites could now bank on their lead margin and final hoops from Jordan Spiteri and Isaac Azzopardi ascertained their victory and the winning of this category championship.
Following this match, MBA president Paul Sultana presented the winning trophy to the jubilant Starlites Naxxar clan.
Gzira Athleta 75
Starlites Mazars 53
(15-11, 16-6, 13-19, 31-17)
Athleta: K. Fabri, M. Spiteri, A. Garzia. Jon Caruana, I. Mifsud, F. Borg, N. Vella 6, I. Xuereb 23, L. Abela, M. Deflavia 2, Jus Caruana 28, J. Ellul Dowling 16.
Starlites: J. Dimech 10, J. Cefai, J. Spiteri 7, I. Borg, I. Azzopardi 12, A. Sammut, A. Djordjevic, A. Azzopardi 21, S. Pace 3.
Refs: K. Dworniczak, P. Shoults.
Starlites Mazars 61
Gżira Athleta 45
(10-14, 18-11, 15-4, 18-16)
Starlites: J. Dimech 1, J. Cefai, J. Spiteri 18, I. Borg, I. Azzopardi 13, A. Sammut, A. Djordjevic, A. Azzopardi 19, S. Pace 10.
gżira Athleta: K. Fabri, M. Spiteri, A. Garzia. Jon Caruana, I. Mifsud, F. Borg, N. Vella 7, I. Xuereb 13, L. Abela, M. Deflavia, Jus Caruana 13, J. Ellul Dowling 12.
Refs: V. Nikolic, Y. Bonett.