Malta can exceed expectation if they overcome a tough Luxembourg side on Saturday in their semi-final game of the FIBA European Small Countries Championship (tip-off: 7PM). However, it will take a collective effort from every player on coach Angela Adamoli’s team to achieve this, according to Malta guard Kristy Galea.
Malta looked a different side against Ireland in their final Group A game on Thursday from their win against Andorra the day before. Galea led Malta’s scoring with 14 points on the day but this was not enough as a compact Irish defence that restricted the Malta players to outside the paint, and also grabbed the majority of rebounds, gave Malta its first loss – 78-48 – of the tournament.
“It was a tough game against Ireland,” Galea told the Times of Malta, “They were much bigger compared to Andorra, and we had to rely on outside shots.
“Looking back at the game, there were many things we could have done better – our percentages weren’t bad, we simply shot way less shots than they did. We also got out-rebounded by them (Ireland), especially in offensive rebounds, which means second-chance points.”
Luxembourg, who have last played against Malta in the 2018 edition of the Games, ending in a 62-47 win for Luxembourg, are considered one of the favourites for Gold this year and have shown it thus far by beating Kosovo 94-65 and Cyprus 90-60 in their group games to take first place heading into the knockout stages.
In spite of this, Galea says the team is prepared for the challenge ahead, that if overcome, could mean a replay with Ireland in the final should they beat Kosovo in their own semifinal on Saturday.
“We are ready for tomorrow’s (Saturday) game,” Galea said.
“Communication, teamwork, and defence will definitely play a huge part in helping us win the game. All of us know what is expected of us and we all need to show up.”
While the winner of Saturday’s games progresses to the final on Sunday, the other two teams will battle for the Bronze medal of the tournament earlier on Sunday.