Malta has sent its newly formed women’s basketball 3×3 team over to Cyprus Friday to take part in this year’s European Cup qualifiers. The side will be led by coach Angela Adamoli, who has vast experience in the sport due to her having won gold at the 2018 world championships as the Italian team coach.
The Malta roster consists of four locally-based players – Starlites’ Stephanie De Martino and Mikela Riolo, as well as Hibernians’ Samantha Brincat and Ashleigh van Vliet.
Malta is seeded first in its group, facing Luxembourg (tip-off: 08.55) and Cyprus (16.55) on Saturday. Were they to make it past the group stage, they would then head into the quarter-finals on Sunday. If qualification is achieved on Sunday, then the team would turn its sights to Graz, Austria for the finals in September.
Speaking to the Times of Malta ahead of the competition, Malta international De Martino said they are looking forward to experiencing such an atmosphere ahead of the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) in 2023.
“It’s the first time we are playing 3×3 internationally, so we’re looking for the experience ahead of GSSE 2023,” De Martino said.
“We’ll definitely use this experience to try and place within the top ranks. We have a hard first game against Luxembourg and the second game against Cyprus.”
The selection of the squad was finalised just a few weeks ago, with coach Adamoli making her pick following recent minor tournaments played locally among players. Added to this was a clinic held at the Ta’ Qali pavilion at the end of September, which served also as trials for this national team setup.
While a women’s team has been formed, no senior men’s team has found its inception yet and so, Malta will not be represented in the men’s qualifiers this year.
Asked about how much this clinic impacted the selection ahead of these qualifiers, De Martino admitted that it was helpful to coach Adamoli to determine the level of interest and which players to choose.
“It did (have an impact) in the sense that (Adamoli) got the opportunity to see who’s interested in 3×3 and how people play, as 3×3 is very different to the normal game. However, Angela (Adamoli) was here during the past two weeks, she trained the squad and selected the team herself ahead of these qualifiers.”
All four players in the squad have also been picked this week to be part of Adamoli’s provisional 19-player squad for this summer’s FIBA Small Countries Games between June 28- July 3.
After a long season that saw both De Martino and Brincat suffering tough injuries, as well as Van Vliet being the Maltese player with the most minutes on court throughout the Maltese league this season, one might fear that two international commitments within the same month of June would be restricting their time for well-earned rest. However, De Martino believes that continuation is better.
“I’m looking forward!” she said, “3×3 is the basis of the game, so training for 3×3 has been preparing us also for the international competition at the end of the month.
“It’s better to keep going rather than to stop in between, so as soon as we are back on June 6, we will start training for the next one with the full set of 19 players.”