Malta’s women head into Game two of their FIBA Small Countries Games commitments on Thursday on the back of an important opening victory against Kosovo on Tuesday. Now, Malta faces Andorra (tip-off: 13.00) in what will be another final for the team’s ambitions for Gold.
The side beat the Kosovars 68-61 in a tightly contested game that could have gone either way if it wasn’t for good composure from the Maltese late on in the fourth quarter. Coach Angela Adamoli believes her players interpreted the game well.
“We know Kosovo from last year – we lost our Bronze medal against them, so we were prepared for a really tough game. I think the girls interpreted this game in the perfect way. We missed a lot of easy shots, but we were focused on the game,” Adamoli said in her post-game comments.
“The last five minutes, we had one moment when we were scared to win the game as happened last year. But I think we stayed together and started to play as a team again. We won a really important game.
“This was our first final and we have to face the next game against Andorra with the same focus and concentration because every game is a final, arriving step by step and playing against everybody so that we can have the possibility of winning the best medal.
“The aim is to have our destiny in our hands and that is what we are looking for.”
While the score may indicate the closest of games, it was Malta’s Stephanie De Martino who led the game’s scoring with 25 points, including a barrage of three-pointers, ending the game with five.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, De Martino echoed the words of her coach when she explained that winning the Kosovo game was crucial to the team.
“I think it was great to start off the tournament with this game,” De Martino said.
“We knew what we were facing, and we had time to prepare for such a game. We also knew that to get where we want to get, it was crucial to win this game and we were prepared for it in the right way.
“I think we performed considerably well. It doesn’t mean we had a perfect game, but we had a game that was good enough to give us the result we wanted.”
Malta’s next opponents Andorra have not had the best of starts so far, suffering a tough 95-36 opening loss to tournament favourites Norway on Tuesday, as well as a 77-56 loss to Kosovo on Wednesday. While the Andorrans will be looking for redemption to try and change their fate despite playing their third game in three days, De Martino insists that while past matchups and the two losses put the odds in Malta’s favour, it will be nothing less than 100% that will get them the win.
“Every game is important if we want a chance at that gold medal. We can’t slip up on any game and we have spent the whole of today (Wednesday) preparing for Andorra both on and off the court with video prep,” she said.
“Our goal is to approach each game in the same manner regardless of the opponent. It seems like given our past matchups against Andorra and the results they got we should be the better team. But each game has its own story and we will give nothing less than 100% to secure the win and move on to the next.”