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Luxol stroll to victory in women’s Super Cup final

Luxol players and officials celebrate their Super Cup success. Photo: Jonathan Bugeja

Caffe Moak Luxol 82
Hibernians 52
(28-16, 19-12, 17-13, 18-16)

Caffe Moak Luxol continued where they left off last season, when they won the league title, as they notched the first honour of the new season by handsomely beating Hibs in the Super Cup final.

The game was on till very late in the first quarter with Luxol leading 21-15 but then the Violets managed to gradually pull away in the second rubber to head into the interval with a comfortable 47-28 lead.

Despite an initial momentary positive spell for Hibs at the start of the second half, Santino Coppa’s girls took again the upper hand and re-established their superiority on the court, and respective 11- and nine-point mini breaks put them
80-42 ahead with Hibs then managing to make it a more respectable scoreline with late baskets.

Hibs, now under the play calling of Sandro Farrugia, were missing some starting five elements from last season with US player Kenyotta Jenkins, who re-signed with the Paolites, still not available, Samantha Brincat is away from the island and Ylenia Bonett now playing in Iceland.

It was Hibs, however, who had the season’s first points off Ashleigh van Vliet. But Luxol were quick to reply with five points off Paula Ellul and the first bucket from Josephine Diaby and new import player, the 27-year-old Mexican Gladys Avila who played in Iceland and Mexico in the last months.

Avila distinguished herself with her on-court savviness not only in notching regular points but also in her passing lane vision and defensive cover. Avila ended as the game’s top point-getter with a 28-point tally, including four long rangers.

“I think we did well for our first game given also we had not all trained together. We got the result, yet we need to communicate better, especially on defence, so as to increase the team’s confidence,” said Avila after the final.
After closing the first quarter leading 28-16, Luxol started the second rubber with a Diaby trey.

The veteran centre, who was continuously sought by Avila under the boards, had good moments and also believed that this Super Cup success was important for her team.

“It gives us confidence which is an important factor for the rest of the season as it is long, and many things may happen. We need to stay focused, respect everyone, and train every week, taking it one game at a time. I am happy to play another year with Luxol where the staff are always very helpful.

“I am glad that Mandy (Mercieca) decide to play again this year and that Santino (Coppa) is again leading us. Gladys (Avila) is a great addition to the team and each one of us, playing or not, has an important role to play.”

After the change of ends, two buckets from the young homegrown Serb Julia Dabic had Hibs on a 6-2 run yet Luxol came back with an 11-0 run which put them back in control.

The third quarter closed at 64-36 after late baskets from Ellul and Luxol’s skipper Mercieca.

The latter, who later raised the winning trophy after the presentation by the Malta Basketball Association (MBA) president Paul Sultana, was happy with the outcome of the game.

“Our team put on a good performance, and we should be proud of this. Although we got the result that we were hoping for, we are aware that we still have a lot to improve on and to further gel as a team,” Mercieca said.

“I have no doubt that with our positive attitude and work ethic, we will train harder and continue to step up our game. We will surely not take any team for granted, as all the teams are very balanced”.

The last quarter was a formality with Luxol extending the lead and Hibs then closing with a 10-2 run. Luxol had buckets from Anna Fenech Pace, the returning Cristina Sollami, and Kayleigh Portelli.

Portelli played with Depiro last season but returned to Luxol and had a similar opinion as her other teammates.

“Starting the season off with a cup is the best kind of motivation to keep us going in the right direction. We still have a lot of work to do, but it is very exciting to see what is in store for us this season,” Portelli said.

The MBA women’s Shield will now take centre stage from the coming weekend.

LUXOL: C. Sollami 5, V. Selvaggi, M. Mercieca 4, L. Fenech Pace 6, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, G. Avila 28, K. Portelli 2, P. Ellul 13, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 18, A. Fenech Pace 6.
HIBERNIANS: E. Farrugia, K. Conti, I. Agius 2, A. Legarra, A. Van Vliet 16, J. Abela 15, N. Farrugia 2, K. Caruana 4, K. Calleja 2, J. Dabic 11, M. Mendez.
Referees: I. Simic, N. Azzopardi, Z. Dobrosavljevic.

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