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Hibs retain top spot as Starlites Naxxar just pip Caffe Moak Luxol

Game day 11 from the MAPFRE MSV Life Women League saw Hibernians confirm again their solitary top spot, after they returned to back-to-back victories following their prior 3-game slump. In the other match, a single point ended separating the teams, after a low-scoring encounter where Starlites Naxxar and Caffe Moak Luxol battled for the momentary third spot in the standings.

Starlites Naxxar           44

Caffe Moak Luxol         43       

(13-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-13)

Starlites and Luxol had a slow start points-wise as it was still a 2-2 game after four minutes of play after an initial Luxol hoop from Josephine Diaby which was replied by a Stephanie Demartino basket shortly afterwards.

Starlites’ foreign import Amelia Simmons gave them the first lead after an and-one play which followed a jumper.

But the lead changed hands very quickly for Luxol who had to do without their new pro import, Brazilian international Palmira Marcal who is expected to play in their next outing after completing her mandatory local quarantine.

A 12-2 run spread around two quarter parts helped Naxxar to move 19-11 ahead as Maria Bonett notched three back-to-back second quarter hoops and although Luxol did later improve a bit in their shooting, it was still a Starlites 25-19 lead at half time.

The Naxxar side are expected to have the return of guard Michela Zammit Cordina in their ranks for the coming games.

With both sides shooting at low percentages from long distance, points were again somewhat scarce in the third quarter yet a Luxol six-point run, through Michelle and Paula Ellul, moved them to just a mere point away, 28-29, and then an and-one play by Michelle Ellul had them also at par 33-33 with seven minutes to the final buzzer.

Starlites’ double-digit point getters Simmons and De Martino gave them some momentary margin after respective hoops but Luxol managed to pip again in front when they also neutralised Starlites’ only trey in the game from Mikela Riolo with further points from Diaby and an Antoinette Borg hoop for 41-40.

With one point still separating the two sides coming into the last minute, a final reverse right hand basket from Bonett off a rebound eight seconds from time proved to be the winning basket for Starlites who thus have now moved two wins ahead of the same Luxol.

Starlites: M. Riolo 3, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett 12, S. DeMartino 12, K. Portelli, A. Simmons 11, M. Fenech, D. Camilleri, S. Wilke, S. Davies 6, C. Curmi.

Luxol: V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 7, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, A. Borg 4, P. Ellul 5, M. Ellul 9, J. Diaby 18, S. Bonfiglio.

Referees: I. Simic, I. Ciurariu, F. Fabok.

Hibernians      70

ARMS Depiro 51                                   

(15-5, 14-19, 17-12, 24-15)

Hibs opened a two-win margin at the top of the standings after this success over ARMS Depiro who had to do without the services of American Hannah Johnson.

The Paolites had an encouraging start as they moved to an 11-0 lead with Depiro taking over six minutes to notch their first basket.

Kenyotta Jenkins and Ylenia Bonett had a brace of personal baskets after Jasmine Abela’s initial trey for the winners, who had Samantha Brincat missing again through injury but Ashleigh van Vliet’s leadership on the court was very evident.

Nicole Agius, who ended with a positive 25 personal point tally, did open Depiro’s account but it was an 11-5 first-quarter lead for Norbert Borg’s side.

The margin between the two sides remained constant for the good part of the second quarter until Depiro had a good end of the half patch with a 9-2 run with Agius continuing with her positive shooting assisted by Monique Caruana and centre Danika Galea.

For two short early second-half moments, Depiro came to just three points away from their opponents. But a 15-4 Hibs run spread over five minutes again distanced the two sides with Kristy Caruana grabbing a brace of jumpers.

Galea, making use of her height under the baskets, tried to instigate a Depiro comeback but Hibs were showing more precision in their plays and the latter definitely closed the game’s outcome with an 11-0 streak midway in the last quarter with Bonett and Jenkins continuing with their points and Naomi Farrugia netting two threeballs.

The last minutes of the game were a formality with both coaches also taking the opportunity to put bench players onto the court.

Hibs: E. Farrugia, Y. Bonett 17, A. Van Vliet 3, J. Abela 9, C. Camilleri, K. Jenkins 26, N. Farrugia 6, K. Caruana 9, K. Conti, K. Fenech, J. Dabic.

Depiro: M. Caruana 4,  N. Agius 25, J. Xerri 2, J. Mallia, L. Duncan, T. Mifsud Tanti, C. Ciantar 5, N. Ebejer, N. Borg 2, D. Galea 13, A. Mallia, C. Fenech.

Referees: B. Vassallo, F. Ciurariu, M. Scerri.

Standings: Hibs 8/3 (19); ARMS Depiro 6/5 (17); Starlites Naxxar 5/6 (16); Caffe Moak Luxol 3/8 (14).

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