The Louis Borg Cup tips off for the men’s team on Friday with a pair of preliminary games at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion as BUPA Luxol face Depiro BC, and Starlites Naxxar play Gzira Athleta.
Luxol have struggled this season but with the league still very close in terms of the final playoff spots, the side’s 92-75 win over Mellieha Libertas over the weekend has kept them in contention.
Speaking to the Times of Malta ahead of the cup game against Depiro on Friday, Luxol coach Duncan Fenech said his side’s objective is always to get to the final.
“It’s imperative to play in a way that leads you to the final, at least that has always been our objective,” Fenech explained.
“We started the season with a few difficulties, ending up with only one foreign player, something which eventually became something out of our control. But our ambition has always been to go on for as long as we can – you count discount that.
“I can’t say that we have an easy game because on paper we’re not the favourites and I believe it’s going to be a complicated weekend but we’re going to try and get past this round towards the final.
“Any cup which Luxol can win, we want to do just that. Even though we are in transition, it’s important for us to get as far as possible.”
Asked about the prowess of import player Canaan Coffey, Fenech had words of praise, particularly towards his consistency.
“(Canaan) Coffey has already had three 40+ point games so far. He’s been consistent and I doubt (these games) will change his approach towards other games. As yet, he’s shown that when we have space, he does his part in this way and it’s been consistent since his first game when he had scored around 41 points.
Starlites expecting Athleta’s ‘fight till the end’
League leaders Starlites will be hoping for better fortunes after losing the Shield final against Hibernians, as well their league game against the Paola side a few days later.
Coach Paul Ferrante believes that the Louis Borg Cup is vital for his players to get the necessary experience under these conditions, ahead of the playoffs.
“All games between Hibs and ourselves are a 50-50 affair, so much so the Shield final ended up in a tie during regular time only to be decided during extra time. This is how all games between us two sides will be expected to be, as most of our encounters were to date,” Ferrante told the Times of Malta.
“With regards to the LB (Louis Borg) cup, we are hoping to advance in this competition as much as possible, because we know that every game we play is gained experience for my players in preparation for the playoffs.”
Asked about the side’s opposition, Ferrante explained he will not underestimate Gzira’s fight.
“We will play on Friday and Sunday and we are expecting Athleta to fight until the end, especially when one takes into consideration that their chances of making the playoffs are marginal at this stage,” he said.
“On a different note, this is a very delicate competition, in which teams have to safeguard players from overuse injuries. We have two players who are not 100% at the moment, and two games in one weekend may be detrimental at this stage. So safeguarding our players is top priority at this moment”