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Depiro’s late surge floors Hibs to secure play-off spot

Depiro’s Hannah Johnson goes for the basket against Hibs Photo: Wally Galea

ARMS Depiro 63
Hibernians 55

(9-13, 18-15, 16-21, 20-6)

A 15-0 mid-last quarter streak and a better long-distance shooting percentage in the last part of the game were the determining factor in Depiro’s win over Hibernians.

In fact, in these five minutes, Depiro managed to turn an eight-point deficit into a very late seven-point positive margin and, with time practically running out till the final buzzer, ascertained themselves of a definite play-off spot in the post-regular season.

With both teams missing players due to the newly imposed 17+ age limit measure and ban on contact sport affected nationally late last week, and with Depiro also having to do with other players due to quarantine measures, the game set off with Hibs opening up a 10-0 lead after four minutes through a Daphnee Frieson and-one play, a threeball from Jasmine Abela, and a respective hoop from Kirsty Caruana and team leader Samantha Brincat.

Depiro however drew level early in the second quarter as duo Hannah Johnson and Monique Caruana were assisted with a brace of hoops from ex-Hibs Julia Xerri.

A mid-quarter 7-0 run helped Hibs, who had also contributions from Marie Buhagiar and Ylenia Bonett, maintain a slight upper edge and despite Depiro’s efforts, it was still the Paolites who enjoyed a very marginal one -point lead at half time, 28-27.

Hibs came out strongly for the second half and, whilst maintaining a slight upper edge under the boards, outplayed their opponents in the early minutes with a 12-3 run which helped them re-open, albeit momentarily, a double-digit margin.

This lead, even if quickly reduced to a single digit, was administered for almost nine minutes of effective play to a 51-43 score line early in the final quarter.

Here, two Caruana long distance shots paved the way to an important Depiro run which saw them even go 58-53 ahead as Hibs totally dried out and committed also a number of unforced errors thus losing possession.

Hibs did try to recover, following late timeouts, but hoops from Johnson and Nicole Hili ascertained Depiro’s win as they now prepare eagerly for the play-off tie with the third-placed team in the final standings.

Depiro: M.Caruana 20, L. Duncan 2, J. Xerri 7, N. Hili 4, H. Johnson 28, N. Ebejer, N. Borg 2, E. Cassar.
Hibs: C. Camilleri 2, I. Agius 3, Y. Bonett 2, S. Brincat 9, B. Agius, J. Abela 10, C. Camilleri, N. Farrugia 3, K. Caruana 2, M. Buhagiar 12, D. Frieson 12.
Referees: I. Simic, F. Ciurariu, I. Ciurariu.

Starlites Naxxar GiG 55
Caffe Moak Luxol 28
(13-6, 15-2, 14-9, 13-11)

Caffe Moak Luxol’s hopes of offering stiff resistance and maybe getting something against the unbeaten leaders Starlites Naxxar GiG suffered a very early major setback when their import guard Kali Koenig limped off the court after just around five minutes of play, when she hurt her knee in a transition play and a foul in her act of shooting.

Shortly afterwards, Luxol also had Kayleigh Portelli leaving the court injured although the latter returned on the court later in the encounter.

Starlites had already opened a small early lead by then but following this, they took full opportunity of Luxol’s situation and gradually took absolute total control of the game, especially after a dominant second quarter performance and clear dominance of the boards, to register an easy win which saw them maintain their unbeaten game streak at the top of the standings.

Luxol did improve their point tally in the latter stages of the game, with Martina Grech also scoring a last-gasp three-pointer at the buzzer, but will need to forget about their shooting percentages in this game in their hunt for the final play-off spot in the post-regular season.

Starlites’ skipper Samantha Tabone had a good shooting hand in the first rubber notching seven of her side’s 13 initial quarter points.

The Naxxar side set off with a 10-0 streak in the second quarter and later added another five points to have a comfortable 28-8 half time lead with Michela Zammit Cordina and Anthea Micallef making good use of their possessions whilst Cristina Sollami grabbed Luxol’s solitary bucket in the quarter.

Starlites’ lead extended slightly in the third quarter and midway in the final rubber, they were totally in command with a hefty 50-19 lead.

Luxol managed to end the game with a 7-3 run, but they will surely be trying to learn from this game in view of their important last-round matches which will determine who, between them and Hibs, will proceed to the semi-final series against Depiro.

Starlites, poised calmly at the top of the standings but still with the need to maintain their playing form during the last regular season round, will then await that semi-finals series winner in the league’s final series.

Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 9, A. Micallef 11, S. Farrugia 10, M. Bonett 7, S. DeMartino 4, C. Curmi, J. Diaby 8, P. Arguello 4, S. Davies 2, N. Schembri.
Luxol: V. Selvaggi, A. Mifsud 2, C. Sollami 8, N. Vella 8, H. Galea, K. Portelli 3, A. Borg, M. Camilleri, K. Koenig, M. Grech 7, M. Pollacco, A. Moranska.
Referees: K. Dworniczak, I. Simic, F. Ciurariu.

Standings

Starlites Naxxar GiG 8/0; ARMS Depiro 5/4; Hibernians 2/7; Caffe Moak Luxol 2/6.

COVID-19 measures hits youth leagues

The latest COVID-19 government measures which deals with the ban, until April 11, of contact sport for those below 17 years of age has also affected the basketball youth leagues.

Luckily, in a way, the boys’ Under-16 league ended a week ago, but the Under-16 girls’ league and both the boys’ and girls’ Under-14 championships had to be clearly postponed.

However, sadly this has also brought repercussions onto the Under-19 leagues for both genders as certain clubs are finding it difficult to field a team if only those aged 17 and over can play.

The new measures, which ban both competitive contact sport activities as well as organised team training sessions, make logical sense given the general reasoning behind the proposed measures, but surprisingly there is also a ban on organised contact sport team practice even if adapted to non-contact and here maybe the logical reasoning is unclear.

The Under-19 boys semi-finals and play-outs, as well as the start of the league best-of-three final series, scheduled in the last weekend and along this week together with the girls’ Under-19 league fixtures have been postponed pending internal discussions on the continuation or not of these category leagues.

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