The Malta National team has, since the opening of this year’s FIBA European Small Countries Games, defended its gold in style with two big wins over San Marino and Gibraltar. Coach Andrea Paccarie’s clan has been solid so far as they dominated both games, leading throughout.
Malta’s leading scorer and star performer of the tournament so far has been Aaron Falzon, with 32 points against San Marino on Tuesday and a further 38 points against Gibraltar the next day. Speaking to the Times of Malta, Falzon, who has just secured his second professional season as he joins Austrian side Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions, said that despite being forced to switch gameplans at the last minute, the team has gelled well together.
“The first two games have been pretty good,” Falzon said.
“We’re missing a pretty big part of our team, who we thought was going to be there with Sam (Deguara). So, these first two games we had to switch gameplans and everybody had to step up a little more as we were unsure about how we were going to play going into the tournament because it’s such a different team but I’m really proud of the whole team in the collective and how we’ve gelled together over these last two games.
“I think every minute we’ve been on the court we’ve gotten better, so I’m just really proud to be part of this team and I’m looking forward to the next two games.”
Malta’s game against Andorra presents the side’s first big test of the tournament after two must-win games. The Andorrans have played all but this game already, beating both San Marino and Gibraltar and losing to Ireland in their opening game. As a team, they have had a better field goal percentage with Malta making 40% and Andorra dropping 45.3%. Malta, however, have gotten more freethrows to drop -72.5% – compared to the 69.4% from Andorra.
Falzon acknowledges the difficulty ahead but says the team is focusing on stopping Andorra from causing damage.
“We’re definitely going into this game knowing it’s going to be a tougher game,” he said.
“Just watching Andorra, they’re a really good team – they know how to play basketball. They have some pretty good players especially (Guillem) Colom. We’re just focusing on our defense and our gameplan to stop them and give ourselves a chance to score more points by limiting how many points they score.”
While defence will be high-priority for Malta, the side will be hoping for another 30+ points game from Falzon. However, the forward played down the idea that he could already be in contention for this year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
“It’s always nice to score points but I think it’s too early to think about MVP and I really don’t want to think about that,” he said.
“I think the most important thing for the team is to win the next game against Andorra and if we can do that, build on that in the game against Ireland. So, we want to just focus on winning, and then everything else will take care of itself.”