(21-11, 18-7, 25-11, 12-12)
Malta built up on the first win against Kosovo with another, even greater, victory against Andorra on Thursday – a 76-41 full-time score in the FIBA Women’s Small Countries Games in Nicosia, Cyprus.
It was Malta’s game to lose from the start but coach Angela Adamoli’s clan showed off their skills with points coming left, right, and centre from nine of the 12 players on the roster to dominate all but the last quarter. As for Andorra, this continues to add pressure after having lost their first three games.
Malta’s Josephine Diaby led the game’s scoring with 21 points, as Stephanie De Martino added 18, and Ashleigh Van Vliet rounded up the double-digit scorers with 13. As for Andorra, Claudia Brunet was the only double-digit scorer with 16, as Claudia Guri led the game in boards with 10 rebounds.
The result was a major boost for the Malta women’s team as they have now all but assured themselves of returning home with a medal, which colour will be decided in their final two fixtures against Cyprus, on Saturday, and Norway on Sunday.
Adamoli’s clan started with Nicola Handreck, Sophie Abela, De Martino, Van Vliet, and Diaby in the first five while Andorra started with Cristina Rabasa, Noah Mico, Brunet, Guri, and Anna Mana.
Malta took the opening tip, but the Andorrans opened the scoring. De Martino equalised from the line and another bucket from the Starlites forward gave malta the lead with Diaby adding two points to open a four-point gap.
De Martino kicked off her threes with two makes from beyond the arc in between a Diaby two-pointer as Malta went on a 12-0 run. Diaby could not be stopped from under the rim as Malta made it 16-2 with five minutes to go.
Mico eventually stopped Malta’s run but the gap remained as Diaby secured another basket with three mins to go in the first quarter. Fouls were an issue for Malta as Andorra were in the bonus in the seventh minute of the quarter but Diaby was at her usual best to hit from three and add more woes to Andorra, now trying to catch up on a 14-point deficit in the final minute and a half.
Ylenia Bonett scored her first senior basket, as did Danika Galea as the second quarter began with a 7-0 run by Malta. Andorra finally stopped Malta’s streak with their first three of the day by Brunet and a Rabasa layup. Nevertheless, Diaby avoided an Andorra points-run to make it 32-16 with 3.40 to go in the first half. Fouling was the only way to stop Malta and through buckets from Claire Ciantar, Handreck, and Abela, Malta ended the half 39-18.
The same was in store in the third quarter as Malta amassed a 30-point margin with four mins passed in the second half and made it even tougher for their opponents with an 8-2 run to end the quarter 63-29.
Despite Andorra going on a 6-0 run at the restart, the fourth quarter was a formality as Malta piled up more points with the gap floating around the 30-point mark while Malta reached 70 points with six minutes to go in the game. Late foul trouble gave both sides the bonus once more but there was no time for drastic changes as Malta kept up their emphatic lead until the final buzzer.
MALTA N. Agius, Y. Bonett 2, D. Galea 7, M. Riolo 5, A. van Vliet 13, S. Abela 4, C. Ciantar 4, S. De Martino 18, K. Galea, J. Diaby 21, N. Handreck 2, J. Xerri.
ANDORRA C. Rabasa 8, L. Laurent 3, N. Mico 2, A. Garcia, M. Sobany, C. Brunet 16, C. Guri 8, A. Mana, J. Marquez 4, P. Meira, A. Prat, C. Torcuato.