The opening day of the MAPFRE MSV Life Women League resulted in Hibernians stretching their winning streak whilst ARMS Depiro registered their first seasonal victory after respective wins over Caffe Moak Luxol and Starlites Naxxar. Bernard Vassallo writes…
Caffe Moak Luxol 39
(11-8, 13-14, 22-6, 18-11)
A strong start to the second half was the determining moment in this encounter as Hibernians beat Caffe Moak Luxol. After both sides went in for the interval just a mere basket away from each other, at 24-22, Hibs returned back on court and outscored their opponents 14-2 in the next eight minutes of play.
With Luxol unable to recover well enough, a further 14-1 run, spread around the end of the third quarter and the start of the final one, moved Hibs to a commanding 55-29 lead and sure of the final victory with time firmly on their side.
Early Ylenia Bonett points and an Asleigh van Vliet trey put Hibs early in front.
But Luxol were right on their heels and were at an arms’ length away, 8-11, after the first quarter.
Even though Hibs, momentarily opened a double-digit lead after the first hoops from Kenyotta Jenkins and a Samantha Brincat threeball, 18-8, the Violets had a good run and managed to get at par with positive plays from Josephine Diaby and Sarah Pace.
It was a tight game right up to the half-time buzzer with Susanna Bonfiglio’s two free throws from four helping Luxol to close the half 22-24 behind.
A series of Jenkins close-range baskets and a brace of Jasmine Abela treys moved Hibs to another double-digit advantage and although Luxol, momentarily, broke their points drought, the Paolites kept on marching and another streak helped them to a 55-29 lead with six minutes to go.
The game was over at this juncture and both sides shared the final minutes’ play.
Hibs: M. Buhagiar, I. Agius, Y. Bonett 8, A. Van Vliet 15, S. Brincat 5, J. Abela 9, C. Camilleri, J. Dabic, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 2, E. Farrugia, K. Jenkins 25.
Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, S. Pace 9, N. Vella 4, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, S. Vella, A. Borg 2, P. Ellul, J. Diaby 15, S. Bonfiglio 4, A. Fenech Pace, J. Oramas 5.
Referees: K. Dworniczak, F. Ciurariu, I. Ciurariu.
Starlites Naxxar 47
ARMS Depiro 72
(7-27, 18-13, 13-17, 9-15)
A strong start to the game proved fruitful for ARMS Depiro as they hit a subdued and initially inconsistent Starlites Naxxar side with an early 20-3 run in the first eight rotations of the clock in the game.
It was then a purely uphill tussle for the Naxxar side.
Despite improving in their offensive ploys, they could never bring down the deficit to single digits as the Mtarfa side, again without the services of their
injured pro player Hannah Johnson who is however expected to return on court in the next game, defended well their lead by finding the necessary space in their opponent’s rearguard.
Starlites’ Maria Bonett notched the game’s first hoop but Depiro’s young centre Danika Galea had a brace of baskets around a Monique Caruana trey and a Nicole Agius basket to move 9-2 ahead.
Depiro’s positive momentum continued as another 11 points on the trot, with Claire Ciantar also adding close-range hoops from her end, moved Depiro to a 20-3 lead.
Cristina Curmi and Mikela Riolo tried to stop Depiro’s rally but the latter moved on and they added another 11-0 streak which led them to a heftier and quite surprising lead, 31-7.
Young guard Andrea Saliba gave some needed impetus to Starlites and her offensive forays and a Bonett threeball helped the Naxxar side to reduce a bit the margin to 25-40 by the half time interval.
Depiro also missed a number of free throws in the latter stages of this half.
Hopes of a Starlites comeback were somewhat thwarted when Depiro’s Julia Xerri scored six consecutive points early in the second half and leading Starlites to call a very early timeout.
Midway in the third quarter Starlites had their best patch in the game and closed down the deficit to 12 points, 38-50, only for Depiro to practically set their minds at rest when they then had a 10-point run going into the last rubber.
The gap was now too wide and the last quarter was a balanced affair with Depiro administering well their lead on their way to their first seasonal win and a positive start to the league campaign.
Starlites: A. Saliba 14, M. Riolo 8, J. Doughty, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett 10, K. Portelli 3, M. Fenech, C. Vella, S. Wilke, S. Davies 2, C. Curmi 10.
Depiro: M. Caruana 15, N. Agius 16, J. Xerri 11, J. Mallia, T. Mifsud 2, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 8, N. Hili 4, N. Borg 2, D. Galea 12, E. Cassar 2.
Referees: I. Simic , F. Ciurariu, V. Nikolic.