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Key victories for Starlites and Luxol as playoff race widens

Starlites Naxxar’s Amelia Simmons tires a shot against Hibernians. Photo: Wally Galea

With one round of games to go in the regular season of the MAPFRE MSV Life Women League, the playoff race is further wide open after the latest wins by Caffe Moak Luxol and Starlites Naxxar.

Leaders Hibs have a small buffer to rely on but a play-off spot is still not mathematically certain for them although they know that should they falter in all the three round-six games and Depiro, now three games behind, would win all their games and tie with Hibs in the standings, the Paolites would still progress having an advantage in the direct encounters.

However, Starlites and Luxol are also vying for the three playoff spots and this could lead to different league standings permutations including a tie in the final standings with more than two teams involved on equal points and the direct encounters tally would prove influential.

Caffe Moak Luxol 76
Arms Depiro 50

(16-16, 14-13, 27-9, 19-12)

A superior performance in the third quarter was the pivotal moment in this game which led to Caffe Moak Luxol’s seventh league win and also helped them to move above the same ARMS Depiro in the league standings.

The St Andrew’s side also now have a game lead in the direct encounters over Depiro having won three of the previous five league matches.

The first half was a very balanced affair with Luxol taking a very early 9-2 lead. But Depiro, who had their new import player Kelly Koshuta making her debut whilst Hannah Johnson is still unavailable, managed to even overturn the score and enjoy a 23-19 lead early in the second quarter.

Play kept on a par with the halftime buzzer arriving with Luxol enjoying a very slender 30-29 advantage.

The game swayed clearly in Luxol’s favour in the third quarter, which the latter won 27-9, including a late 13-0 run.

Brazilian Palmira Marcal and Antoinette Borg had a long-range hoop whilst Sarah Pace added a tris of hoops and centre Josephine Diaby had a number of close to mid-range shots in this quarter.

Depiro had a bright start in the fourth quarter with treys from Nicole Agius and Monique Caruana.

But Luxol did not let the game slip away and a further streak, this time of twelve consecutive points made sure of their victory.

Luxol: V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 16, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, P. Marcal 17, A. Borg 12, P. Ellul 10, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 21.
Depiro: M. Caruana 3, N. Agius 10, J. Xerri 7, A. Mallia, J. Mallia, L. Duncan, C. Ciantar 4, N. Hili, N. Borg, D. Galea 5, C. Fenech, K. Koshuta 21.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, V. Nikolic, M. Scerri.

Hibernians 47
Starlites Naxxar 77
(14-15, 8-23, 10-17, 15-22)

Starlites Naxxar moved a game closer in the standings to leaders Hibs when they registered their third successive win over the Paolites in five league encounters so far.

Hibs could have made sure of a playoff spot with a win in this game but they fell behind from the second quarter and could never come back into the game as Starlites kept their momentum and gradually increased the lead.

It was close in the first quarter with hoops off Ashleigh van Vliet and Kenyotta Jenkins giving Hibs an early buffer.

The Paolites are still missing their veteran guard Samantha Brincat apart from other injured elements who were all present when they had a very strong start to the season.

Late Amelia Simmons buckets helped Starlites to a marginal first-quarter lead and then the Naxxar side took control of the game when they went on a 12-0 run midway into the second quarter with a Michela Zammit Cordina three-ball adding to hoops from Simmons, Stephanie Demartino, and Maria Bonett.

Very shortly after the interval, back-to-back Jenkins hoops did bring Hibs’ deficit to 30-40 but Starlites were quick to hit back and extend further their lead with a 13-1 run.

Enjoying a 23-point lead coming into the last quarter, Starlites controlled the tempo in the last ten minutes of play to take home an important win in the playoff race.

Hibernians: E. Farrugia, I. Agius, Y. Bonett 10, A. Van Vliet 11, J. Abela 3, C. Camilleri, K. Jenkins 20, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 3, K. Fenech, K. Conti, J. Dabic.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 12, M. Riolo 4, A, Saliba 2, S. Farrugia Tabone, S. DeMartino 16, K. Portelli, A. Simmons 24, M. Fenech, M. Bonett 11, S. Davies, C. Curmi 8.
Referees: D. Torok, Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Ciurariu.

Standings

Hibs (9/6) 24; Starlites Naxxar (8/7) 23; Caffe Moak Luxol (7/8) 22; ARMS Depiro (6/9) 21.

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