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Watch: Malta knocks out Kosovo to head to 3×3 qualifier semis

Malta’s women’s 3×3 team made it into the semifinals of the 3×3 Europe Cup qualifier semifinals after beating Kosovo 14-12 on Sunday.

After finishing third in Pool A, it was do-or-die for Malta who faced the second-placed side from Pool B. This win hands them a chance to redeem themselves against Cyprus in their semifinal clash after the home team had dominated play on Saturday in the final game of the group.

Malta started off with Mikela Riolo, Stephanie De Martino, and Ashliegh Van Vliet on the court as the Kosovars won the toss for first possession. Kosovo had the chance to open the score from the line, but a miss led to a rebound and a De Martino Two-pointer just past the first minute.

Irma Konjusha opened the scoring for Kosovo with a drive down the middle from the restart. She had the opportunity to get another from the line, but yet again, Kosovo could not connect from the line. Instead, it was a Riolo two-ball that hit the net next as Malta opened a three-point margin.

Malta’s defensive rebounding was vital as they stopped all hope for a second chance point from Kosovo, moving the ball away to Van Vliet to continue increasing the score with a layup from the left. Konjusha replied with a quick shot on the restart but Van Vliet hit Malta’s third make of three from beyond the arc for 7-2 with 7.32 to go.

Van Vliet was constant trouble for the Kosovars with action both from under the rim and far away, as she hit the opposition with a post-move to add another to her tally before Kosovo finally stopped Malta’s run with an and-one play by Saranda Daci. The latter made her free throw this time as Kosovo trailed by four as the game moved closer to the final five minutes.

By now, Malta has already amassed their highest points tally in the qualifiers so far but with compact defence, they rallied to keep the margin intact, even adding another with four minutes to go.

Kosovo managed to drop the difference down to two with a Konjusha free throw and steal which led to a two-pointer by the same player at the shot-clock buzzer with three minutes to go.

Malta stood firm to stop Kosovo’s 3-0 run with a De Martino post-move effort and Van Vliet added another two from the line as both sides were in foul trouble.

Konjusha replied with another two-pointer to keep it an open contest despite being down by three with just a minute to go. Daci added another but De Martino shut them down with another shot from beyond the arc.

There was time for two points from Konjusha and Abnore Perquku in the last remaining seconds, but Malta took the spoils at the final buzzer.

Malta S. De Martino 5, M. Riolo 2, Van Vliet 7, S. Brincat

Kosovo I.Konjusha 8, S. Daci 3, A. Perquku 1, E. Rexhepi.


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