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Caffe Moak Luxol crowned women’s league champions after seeing off Hibernians

Luxol players and officials celebrate with the trophy at the Ta' Qali Pavilion. Photo: Wally Galea

Caffe Moak Luxol 68

Hibernians 56

(16-6, 17-30, 25-12, 10-8)

Caffe Moak Luxol are the 2022 MAPFRE MSV Life Women League champions, five years after their last league success in 2017, when they registered their third win on the trot in the 2022 Finals best-of-five series against Hibernians.

This is also Luxol’s 14th league title in history.

As happened in Games Two and Three, after Hibs’ initial win in this series, Luxol managed to close the game victorious in Game Four after an encounter that had different facets, some quite characteristic of the women’s game.

Luxol’s guard Sarah Pace opened the scoring in this game but Hibs replied with two early hoops from Samantha Brincat and Kenyotta Jenkins.

But here the St Andrews’ side set off on the first major streak in the game, a 12-0 run, with Brazilian Palmira Marcal banging in the first two three-balls on the way to a notable 27 personal point tally and then also being voted the MVP of the Finals Series.

With Hibs having again, similar to Game Three, some of their elements with low shooting percentages from regular and long range, two Josephine Diaby free-throws closed the first quarter with Luxol enjoying a double-digit lead, 16-6.

The advantage was extended to 24-11 in the first part of the second quarter after another Marcal trey and an Anna Fenech Pace bucket.

But from this point on till the halftime buzzer, Hibs were a completely different outfit.

In fact, Hibs found their rhythm and had their best stretch in the game outscoring their opponents 25-9 till the interval, thereby also taking the lead and putting a smile on coach Norbert Borg’s face.

Forward, coming off the bench, Kirsty Caruana was on song at this juncture potting 10 points, including two treys and was complimented by Jenkins, under the boards, and an Ashleigh van Vliet long ranger as well as some points off Ylenia Bonett.

Tables had now turned as both sides went in for the half time break with Hibs leading 36-33.

The Paolites’ maximum lead went up to six points, 43-37, early in the third quarter after a Jenkins’ bucket but here Luxol again took the driving seat as they now started to set the tempo.

Two Marcal three-pointers gave them the initial momentum and shortly afterwards Diaby and Anna Fenech Pace added hoops for a 10-0 run for a change of lead.

Despite a Jenkins’ trey, Luxol kept pressing, under the consistent incitement of their play caller Santino Coppa, and closed the third quarter on a strong note with an 11-2 run to restablish a double digit lead, similar to the end of the first quarter, but now standing at 58-48.

The pressure was now totally on Hibs who knew fully well that they had to claw back into the game if they wanted to keep the finals series alive.

Luxol’s Palmira Marcal (right) goes for the basket despite the challenge of Ylenia Bonett. Photo: Wally Galea

However, the final quarter materialised in a very low-scoring affiar with both sides committing many turnovers and mistakes, probably as a result of the tension and the importance of the game on the court.

Hoops from Pace and Diaby neutralised Hibs’ offensive efforts from Jenkins and van Vliet and with time running out, Luxol were still enjoying a double-digit lead.

Despite trying to increase the tempo, Hibs could not make a comeback and the final buzzer was met with joyful celebrations by the Luxol squad and supporters on the stands.

Their celebrations culminated when the players were presented with the championship-winning medals, Marcal with the Finals’ MVP plaque and skipper Antoinette Borg was handed the League trophy by Michael Galea, MAPFRE MSV Life Business Development Chief Officer, accompanied by the MBA president Paul Sultana.

Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 12, A. Mercieca, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, P. Marcal 27, A. Borg, P. Ellul 4, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 17, A. Fenech Pace 8.

Hibs: E. Farrugia, K. Conti, I. Agius, Y. Bonett 5, A. van Vliet 7, S. Brincat 4, J. Abela 3, C. Camilleri, K. Jenkins 23, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 14, J. Dabic.

Refs: G. Barbara, K. Dworniczak, N. Azzopardi

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