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Gozo basketball eyes revolution

Players from Fusion Basketball and the Gozo Basketball community.

The Maltese Islands are known for their competitive spirit and despite their small size, people continuously seek to compete.

When it comes to basketball, Maltese clubs have been for many years settled into two divisions. However, on sister island Gozo, senior-level basketball has been scarce.

While the island had both a men’s and women’s team in the past, the only Gozitan representatives currently competing in the Malta Basketball Association (MBA) leagues are Shamrock Stars and Ghajnsielem Redcoats, both operating at only youth level.

However, the fact that Gozo is becoming more and more multicultural, has left its mark on sport, bringing about the emergence of the ‘Gozo Basketball Community’.

Led by Anthony Carlucci, an American living in Gozo since 2017, the organisation has since formed its own recreational league called the Gozo Basketball League (GBL), taking place at the Gaudos gym in Victoria.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Carlucci said optimism is high among the players and that there is now “a local spot for all types of players in Gozo to come and play and compete”.

“I decided to try and organise Gozo Basketball in hopes for an outdoor court for the public to be built in Gozo and also give the guys a more organised and meaningful playing style for the island,” Carlucci said.

“Word has spread, and we’ve gone from five to 25 (players) and growing in just a few weeks! Optimism has inspired me to make more of an effort and to bring basketball back to Gozo like it was back in the 80s and 90s.

“As I’ve heard, there was quite a league back in the day. Actually, we are planning a new-versus-old game with former Gozo players. It should be quite exciting.”

The GBL currently hosts four teams – Gozo Blazers, Sharks Basketball, Pilipinas Basketball, and Team Grand. Carlucci believes that associating itself with the MBA is a dream of the future. As yet, the community has had its chance to showcase its talents in an invitational game against MBA Division Two side Fusion Basketball on June 7.

“The coach of Fusion had seen my posts (online) and suggested the idea – they really are a class act in terms of organisation,” he explained, “The president, who I now consider a good friend, brought over the guys and we played on the public holiday.

“It was a great experience, and we plan to go visit them in Malta soon as well.”

Carlucci said that the success of the invitational game has motivated him to keep going and he will be “keeping this new tradition alive”.

The Gozo Basketball community, albeit small, gives home to both local and foreign players and Carlucci believes it can flourish if given more space to grow.

“We are always recruiting players and we have all levels – many nationalities and a lot of passion for the game,” he said.

“We have quite a bit of local talent – the interest is very high in Gozo via word of mouth. Even some younger guys have decided to give it a try. But we also have many foreigners who call Gozo home as well.

“We are an island with one gymnasium, so it has been tough even for a once-a-week meeting when you have guys that are all-in. But for now, I like where the league is headed. I am all about community as well as the magic of Gozo that still remains – there’s history here and I just want to be part of it.”

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