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Louis Borg Cup opens with women’s semifinals

ARMS Depiro and Caffe MOAK Luxol face off as Starlites play Hibernians in the Louis Borg semi-finals this week. Photo: Wally Galea

The Louis Borg Cup opens with a pair of women’s games on Thursday as ARMS Depiro face Caffe MOAK Luxol, and Hibernians play Starlites Naxxar in this year’s semifinals. These games, played on two legs, will determine the final pairing of the Cup, played at the end of April.

Speaking to the Times of Malta ahead of the first leg on Thursday, Depiro women’s coach Ruben Baldacchino believes the only approach his side will take is that of winners, especially when facing a team like Luxol, which has struggled during the season.

“They (Luxol) are still in the chance of making the playoffs, thus I would not rule them out so quickly,” Baldacchino said.

“At the moment, we’ve been hit by injury but our approach is to win. We have already shown this season that we can win with Maltese players only. So, for whoever goes on court, the approach is to win.”

Luxol have finally seen their new import player Palmira Marcal in action, starting shakily in the Knock-out Cup final against Hibernians but making amends with an impressive performance over the weekend in their last game against the same opposition. Together with the likes of Josephine Diaby, Luxol will surely give Depiro a fight and Baldacchino goes as far as believing the side will start as favourites for the two legs.

“Definitely, she (Marcal) is a player to watch, like Josephine (Diaby). However, I think one shouldn’t exclude other players,” Baldacchino admitted.

“It’s always difficult when you have missing players, but I have full trust in my players to do well. Two weeks ago, we played against them (Luxol) and only seven points separated us despite playing without key players.

“Definitely, Luxol start as favourites on paper, but that’s only on paper. Who plays the best will go o the final but we are in it to win it.”

In the other semi-final of the day, Hibernians will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Luxol by trying to overcome a resilient Starlites side that has fought back from a tough start.

The league leaders are as close as ever to reaching their target. However, coach Norbert Borg has downplayed this as his side are focused on winning all there is to win this season.

“A spot in the playoffs is not yet guaranteed,” Borg admitted, “We still need to play five more games and all the teams are close.”

“We are facing Starlites in the semi-final of the Louis Borg Cup, they are a very good team and they will definitely give us a hard game on both legs. Every cup is important to win and we are giving our best to go through and lift this cup too.”

Asked about their stumble in their last league game, Borg believes there were many factors involved and he hopes his side can react well on Thursday, and the return leg on Sunday.

“Against Luxol last Sunday, it was a very tough game,” he said.

“We had two key players missing from the previous game. We started playing a zone defence from which their foreigner scored some decisive three-pointers in the first quarter and we didn’t manage to find any baskets from our end. I hope that the team responds positively for Thursday and Sunday’s games in order to go through to the final.”

LOUIS BORG CUP WOMEN SEMI-FINALS

PLAYING THURSDAY

Caffee MOAK Luxol vs ARMS Depiro     18.00

Hibernians vs Starlites Naxxar 20.00

PLAYING SATURDAY

ARMS Depiro vs Caffe MOAK Luxol       15.45

PLAYING SUNDAY

Starlites Naxxar vs Hibernians 11.15

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