Caffe MOAK Luxol have had a particularly unstable season so far, however, they have made the Shield Final earlier in February, and lead their semifinal series of the Louis Borg Cup against ARMS Depiro by 13 points.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, coach Santino Coppa still believes his side will have to be at its best on Saturday (tip-off: 15.45) to go through to the final. This comes in spite of a 13-point aggregate lead of the Mtarfa side after a 68-55 victory on Thursday.
“Normally, the team that loses (the first leg) will have a strong psychological push to try and win and I surely believe that the 13 points are not enough to see us through,” Coppa said.
“We need to put in another concentrated and determined performance to make the final even because our opponents have affected a tactic which I must admit put us in a tight spot. In fact, they played the box and one on (Palmira) Marcal.
“(Marcal) showed great intelligence and played well either way which was very helpful to the team.”
Coppa had words of praise for Depiro, particularly for Leanne Duncan, a player who was part of his squad when he was coaching Malta’s women national team.
“Compliments to Depiro, especially to Leanne (Duncan) who played very well, even making 100% of her shots – she made no mistake. In fact, at the end of the game, I went over to congratulate her,” he said.
In spite of these cup runs, their journey in the league this season has been troubled and their chances of heading to the playoffs are getting slimmer. Asked about this, Coppa explained that the goal of the team is not this season and believes the team is not yet ready to retain its former glory.
“I’m here for a long-term project and we’ve had months of great difficulty this season, even because we were without a foreign player for three months,” Coppa admitted.
“We have players who are nearing retirement and at the moment, we are in transition. This is the first step to reconstructing a squad as we had in 2017 when I was the coach and we won the title. For this, we’re not really planning for this season – it’s clear that we are not ready yet.
“Our project is long-term and revolves especially around youth. Work has already started towards eventually winning a title. But we can’t be disillusioned because the other two teams after this semifinal are very difficult and so they will be favourites both for the cup and the rest of the season.”
In the other Louis Borg Cup game of the weekend, Hibernians face Starlites on Sunday in their respective second leg tie. The league leaders have a slender five-point aggregate lead over their opponents, meaning it is all to play for.
PLAYING ON SATURDAY
ARMS Depiro vs Caffe MOAK Luxol 15.45
Starlites vs Hibernians 11.15