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Depiro edge Luxol as Starlites Naxxar overcome Hibernians

Starlites Naxxar Mikela Riolo tries to move past Jasmine Abela. Photo: Wally Galea

Caffe Moak Luxol         46

ARMS Depiro 48   

(14-11, 2-16, 12-13, 18-8)

The first rubber was a balanced affair as both Caffe MOAK Luxol and ARMS Depiro replied continuously to each other with Luxol taking the first lead including a Josephine Diaby brace of hoops.

Although Depiro responded through positive shots from Nicole Agius, Santino Coppa’s side still maintained the upper edge as late buckets from Anna Fenech Pace and Sarah Pace helped them to a 14-11 first-quarter lead.

Depiro, missing the services of their import player Hannah Johnson, outplayed their opponents in the second quarter as they netted 16 points to a solitary hoop from Luxol.

Claire Ciantar and Danika Galea shared nine points whilst Leanne Duncan added a three-pointer in this game segment with Depiro enjoying a 27-16 half-time advantage.

This lead extended to a game-high 18 points, 34-16, when the Mtarfa side opened the second half with a seven-point streak.

Despite Diaby’s points, there were still 12 points separating the two sides at the start of the final quarter.

But Luxol, who are awaiting the arrival of their new import player after Oramas’ season-ending knee injury before the Christmas break, had a positive moment.

In fact, two Pace three-balls adding on four points from Lisa Fenech Pace helped the Violets to close the margin and even brought the game at par, 44-44, with three minutes to go.

All was now to play for and in the final seconds. Luxol paid dearly for a missed free throw on a possible and-one play.

Julia Xerri netted one free throw from two, with 11 seconds to go, at the opposite end to give Depiro the win as Luxol missed the chance of a buzzer beater.

Luxol: L. Fenech Pace 4, V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 13, M. Mercieca 2, N. Vella, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, A. Borg 5, P. Ellul, J. Diaby 19, S. Bonfiglio, A. Fenech Pace 3.    

Depiro: N. Agius 9, J. Xerri 8, L. Duncan 5, T. Mifsud, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 16, N. Borg 2, D. Galea 8, A. Mallia.

Referees: N. Azzopardi, I. Ciurariu, F. Ciurariu.

Hibernians      49

Starlites Naxxar           69                               

(14-23, 8-16, 19-10, 8-20)

Starlites Naxxar managed to successfully start 2022 and obtain their third league win to join Luxol on the 12-point mark in the standings after beating Hibernians.

They included their new signing Amelia Simmons who returned to Malta after having played for a handful seasons in the past with Hibs, incidentally, being her last local club.

Simmons notched the game’s first hoop and together with Mikela Riolo, Stephanie De Martino and Christine Curmi helped the Naxxar side to open an early 23-12 lead.

Hibs’ reaction was not immediately forthcoming and Starlites moved on to make a 20-point margin, 42-22, after just three minutes in the second half.

The Paolites, who once again missed the absence of their utility player Asleigh van Vliet, had their best patch in the following six minutes as they found their scoring touch and registered a 19-5 run with Kenyotta Jenkins and Ylenia Bonett’s baskets being supplemented with treys from Samantha Brincat, Jasmine Abela and Kirsty Caruana.It was suddenly a five-point game, 46-41, only for a late third quarter Riolo three-ball to give some fresh leeway to Starlites. 

The game again swayed in Naxxar’s favour when they hit their opponents with a 10-0 streak early in the final quarter and there was, once again, a double-digit gap between the two sides.

Time was now running out and Hibs could not again recover the lost ground as Starlites controlled the last plays.

Hibs: Y. Bonett 7, S. Brincat 5, J. Abela 7, K. Jenkins 21, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 3, E. Cassar 2, J. Dabic, J. Borg Cardona 4.

Starlites: A. Saliba 5, M. Riolo 13, M. Fenech, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett, S. DeMartino 17, K. Portelli, A. Simmons 25, D. Camilleri, S. Wilke, S. Davies 1, C. Curmi 8.

Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, V. Nikolic, I. Ciurariu.

Standings: Hibs/ARMS Depiro 15, Starlites Naxxar/Caffe Moak Luxol 12.

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