The semi-final series, played on two games, resulted in Caffe Moak Luxol and Depiro eliminating Starlites Fijo and Hibernians respectively to book a place in the final series.
The final showdown will see Game One being played on March 10 and the second match on March 12.
Caffe Moak Luxol 114
Starlites Fijo 99
The first game set off on a low note regarding scoring as both sides had a low percentage whilst turnovers, at both ends, were quite at a high.
Three consecutive hoops from Maria Bonett helped Starlites to a 12-6 lead early in the second quarter only for Luxol to bring the game level, 16-16, after a Gladiana Avila (20 pts, six rebounds, four assists and 10 steals) bucket followed by a trey and hoop from Mandi Mercieca (13 pts, 11 rebounds).
The first half, however, ended with the Naxxar side enjoying a three-point lead after Mikela Riolo had very late points.
The first nine minutes of the third quarter had Starlites always ahead with Stephanie Demartino nailing three treys.
The lead changed hands in the last minute as Luxol scored a tris of hoops from Avila, Mercieca and Josephine Diaby (10 rebounds) respectively to go 38-34 ahead.
Luxol’s run continued at the start of the fourth rubber as they added another eight points on the run to extend their lead to 46-34.
However, the series maintained its full interest as Starlites managed to halve their deficit by the final buzzer after further hoops from Riolo, a brace of buckets from Simmons and a Michela Zammit Cordina threeball.
The second game had a more explosive start as the Naxxar side quickly got early hoops for a 9-2 lead which was further extended to 16-6 a few minutes later. Luxol recovered a bit with five late points in the quarter from Mexican Avila.
Starlites did not let go of their momentum and again opened another double-digit lead in the second quarter, at 35-25, in the game’s 19th minute.
American Amelia Simmons was notching several hoops on a day where she shot at 50% for 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
At the start of the second half, Riolo nailed her third trey in the game but Luxol started, gradually, to find a positive rhythm and a 10-point run saw them overturn a four-point deficit into a six-point lead, 45-39 as the Fenech Pace sisters, Sarah and Lisa (both shooting at 43% and each having also 4 rebounds), had a hoop each around 6 Avila points.
With a quarter to go, Luxol were enjoying a 12-point aggregate lead and the pressure was now totally on Starlites. The latter did try their best, but it was Luxol who managed to move further ahead through further contributions from Avila as well as Diaby.
Starlites Fijo 45
Caffe Moak Luxol 51
(8-6, 11-10, 15-22, 11-13)
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 3, M. Riolo 7, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 6, S. DeMartino 17, M. Fenech 2, A. Simmons 8, C. Cilia, L. Demartino, S. Davies, C. Curmi 2
Luxol: M. Mercieca 13, L. Fenech Pace 2, H. Galea, G. Avila 20, K. Portelli, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace 3, J. Diaby 8, J. Said, S. Sciberras 5, M. Marmara
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, B. Mrkojevic.
Caffe Moak Luxol 63
Starlites Fijo 54
(11-16, 19-19, 18-7, 15-12)
Luxol: C. Sollami, M. Mercieca 3, L. Fenech Pace 9, H. Galea, G. Avila 28, K. Portelli, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace 6, J. Diaby 17, J. Said, S. Sciberras, M. Marmara.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 3, M. Riolo 11, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 2, S. Demartino 12, M. Fenech 2, A. Simmons 22, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, S. Davies, C. Curmi 2.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, F. Ciurariu.
ARMS Depiro 130
ARMS Depiro took a good lead into the second game after managing to end the first encounter with a double-digit lead, an advantage that materialized in the fourth quarter of the game.
In fact, save the first minutes of the game which saw Depiro open on a high to go 10-3 ahead, the two sides battled it out evenly on the court and it was a very tight 46-45 game very late in the third quarter.
The game’s first minute witnessed three treys. Depiro’s Casey Samuels notched a brace whilst Hibs’ Samantha Brincat was precise from long range at the opposite end. Brincat also had four treys in the game with 46 per cent accuracy and 18 points, four assists.
From Depiro’s end, Julia Xerri and Claire Ciantar had double-digit games with Xerri adding seven assists whereas Ciantar had seven boards.
Hibs recovered well by the end of the first quarter for a tied 18-18 score as Ashleigh van Vliet and Kenyotta Jenkins grabbed their points as both had a double-double game.
Both shot below 30% but had 25 points between them as van Vliet had six assists and brought down also 13 boards and Jenkins had 11 rebounds.
The balance was evident for the next two quarters as the game set off for the last rubber.
Here, Depiro managed 10 points without a reply to move 56-45 in the lead.
The Paolites did find back their mark but each of their points was immediately replied at the opposite end as Depiro went in for the second game enjoying a 13-point lead.
Hibs’ early intentions in game two were clear as they tried to set an early pace but their early points were neutralized through treys from Samuels and Nicole Agius. Samuels again led her side and amassed 31 points with 40% shooting and also dished six assists and had 12 rebounds. Guard Agius scored three treys from seven attempts and also added nine rebounds.
A Julia Borg hoop gave Depiro a small late first quarter lead which they maintained till the interval for 37-35.
Hibs best moment arrived late in the third quarter as they registered a 9-point streak to move 53-46 ahead, bringing the aggregate deficit to a mere six points.
Brincat, van Vliet and Jenkins again had a double-digit personal game with van Vliet ending as the game’s top rebounder with 17 boards and eight assists.
Depiro’s reply was very important as they practically took control of the series with a nine-point counter streak courtesy of Samuels and Ciantar.
Time was now in their favour and Leanne Duncan even ascertained their win in the second game.
ARMS Depiro 70
(18-18, 17-16, 10-14, 12-22)
Hibs: I. Agius 11, A. Van Vliet 13, S. Brincat 18, B. Agius, J. Abela 3, K. Jenkins 12, K. Caruana, K. Conti, J. Gauci, E. Cassar, M. Mendez.
Depiro: N. Agius 2, J. Xerri 10, L. Duncan 2, C. Ciantar 15, N. Hili, C. Samuels 29, J. Borg 6, M. Micallef, N. Borg 5, L. Camilleri 1, J. Magri, E. Cassar.
Referees: N. Azzopardi, B. Mrkojevic.
ARMS Depiro 60
(21-19, 16-16, 9-14, 14-8)
Depiro: N. Agius 14, L. Duncan 2, C. Ciantar 8, N. Hili, C. Samuels 31, J. Borg 5, M. Micallef, N. Borg, L. Camilleri
Hibs: K. Conti, I. Agius 2, A. Van Vliet 13, S. Brincat 16, B. Agius, J. Abela 5, K. Jenkins 12, K. Caruana 3, J. Gauci, E. Cassar 6, M.Mendez
Referees: D. Torok, B. Mrkojevic.
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