Malta’s squad for this summer’s 2022 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries was announced by the Malta Basketball Association on Monday.
New head coach Alan Wall’s 14-man roster is set to fight for redemption from June 28- July 3 after going home with Bronze during their 2018 title defence last year in Dublin, Ireland. With the tournament taking place at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion next month, the side will be looking to make the most out of home court with a strong set of players, most of whom ply their trade overseas.
Newly crowned Malta titleholders Starlites have the most players in this year’s squad with brothers Alec and Ian Felice Pace, as well as Matthew Scerri and Kurt Xuereb all making the cut. However, this year saw the inclusion of young players Isaac Bonett and Miguel Brincat in the provisional squad. Both players have shone this season, with Bonett also being part of a Mellieha side that made it to the playoff finals for the first time in the club’s history under coach Adrian Mifsud. However, he did not make it past that stage into the final squad.
The roster sees the return of Australia-based forward Nelson Kahler, who missed out last year due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country, stopping both guard Jacob Formosa and him from departing the country back then. Kahler, who plays for the Sunshine Coast Phoenix in the NBL One North has had a fantastic start to the season as the side is in fourth place of the standings on a 5-2 record. Formosa was not available again this time, but the Malta side is set for another round of Jack Zammit basketball, the Gustavus Adolphus College point guard who made his Malta debut last summer.
Also returning is towering centre Samuel Deguara, who missed out after testing positive for COVID-19 just a week before the tournament and could not make the trip with the squad to Dublin. The 7’5 big man returns on the back of a strong season in Taiwan with new side TaiwanBeer HeroBears.
The addition of Deguara and Kahler will be essential to the overall height, with centre Kurt Cassar out of the squad due to an ankle injury, opting to rehabilitate back in Italy where he plays for Serie B side Ruvo Puglia.
Two-time tournament team of the year forward Aaron Falzon joins the team yet again after a positive season in Austria with the Traiskirchen Lions, as will his brother Tevin, currently fighting for promotion in the Italian Serie C playoffs with Vigor Basket Matelica.
Malta faces tough opposition in Andorra and Azerbaijan in Group A of the tournament, with the side’s opener being against the Azerbaijanis – led by former Red Star and Zalgiris coach Aleksandar Trifunović – on June 28, with the game against Andorra taking place two days later. Qualification games for the championship’s semifinals will then take place on July 1 before the semis on July 2 and the final on July 3.
Miguel Brincat (Depiro BC); David Bugeja (Hibernians); Samuel Deguara (TaiwanBeer HeroBears, Taiwan); Alec Felice Pace, Ian Felice Pace, Matthew Scerri, Kurt Xuereb (all Starlites); Aaron Falzon (Traiskirchen Lions, Austria); Tevin Falzon (Vigor Basket Matelica, Italy); Nelson Kahler (Sunshine Coast Phoenix, Australia); Nathan Xuereb (Gzira Athleta); Jack Zammit (Gustavus Adolphus College, United States).
Head coach Alan Walls
Assistant Coaches Roderick Vella, Kristen Baldacchino