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Watch: Malta miss the chance for FIBA Games gold with loss to Cyprus

Malta's Ashleigh Van Vliet (centre) tries to control the ball among Cyprus defenders. Photo: FIBA

CYPRUS 77

MALTA 67

(17-14, 24-15, 20-19, 16-19)

Malta’s women lost out on a gold medal on Saturday as they fell to tournament leaders Cyprus 77-67 in Nicosia, Cyprus. 

It was a game in which the Maltese struggled to contain the Cypriots’ prowess. After this game, Malta will be hoping for a win against Norway, who had beaten Kosovo earlier on.

Ashleigh Van Vliet led the game in scoring despite the loss as she put up 23 points. Guard Sophie Abela was the only double-digit scorer for Malta as both Josephine Diaby and Nicola Handreck were held to nine points each.

For Cyprus, Veatriki Akathiotou led with 21 points, Eleni Pilakouta added another 19, while Andriana Kasapi scored 14 to round off the double-digit scorers.

Cyprus won the tip but Malta got the first basket through Abela just past the first minute. Cyprus however, pushed past to change the lead. De Martino stopped a 5-0 run as a very physical contest ensued in the first quarter.

Akathiotou gave Cyprus back the lead with a three-and-one, going on to open a five-point lead with three mins to go in the first quarter. This lead went on for the next two minutes before Malta tightened the gap to three before the quarter’s end.

Cyprus added three more as play restarted. Malta struggled to score their shots but they made amends with Kristy Galea bringing it to a point.

Offensive strength pushed into another run and a nine-point lead but with two mins remaining, Cyprus were already in foul trouble and Malta in the bonus. However, once again, Malta was lacking offensive accuracy leading to Cyprus increasing the lead to 11 before halftime.

Pilatkouta was the highlight of the game, causing trouble for the Malta women and increasing the Cypriot lead to 14 in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Malta did, however, bring it back to single digits for a while in the fifth minute but Cyprus regained their advantage, rising to 15 ahead with two mins to go in the third through makes from Mezra Torlak.

Malta responded with a three-ball from Handreck but Cyprus led 61-48 by the end of the third.

The fourth quarter restart gave Malta a boost as they reduced the gap to eight after a minute, eventually to six with three minutes to go. A minute later, Malta were in the bonus and recharged, as Diaby brought the side to within three points but Akathiotou hit back with a Long-distance finish.

Malta crashed when fouls reopened the margin, as Cyprus raved on to finish the game ten points ahead.

SCORERS

CYPRUS V. Akathiotou 21, M. Torlak 4, E. Pilakouta 19, A. Kasapi 14, M. Pangalos 4, T. Raca 7, P. Orlovic 5, D. Papaioannou, S. Sttylianidi 3.

MALTA S. Abela 14, K. Galea 4, Y. Bonett, N. Handreck 9, S. De Martino 8, A. Van Vliet 23, J. Diaby 9.

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