The regular season of the MAPFRE MSV Life Women League came to an end last the weekend and the full attention will now move on to the much-important post-regular season phase with the start of the Championship Play-offs.
Despite not being in action on the last game day, Caffe Moak Luxol finished as the regular season top side with the first spot in the final standings after the regular quadruple round-robin format.
Their reward is an automatic passage to the Championship series where they will await the winners from the semi-final best-of-three series between runners-up Starlites Fijo and third-placed ARMS Depiro, who incidentally met in the last scheduled game of the regular season.
Hibernians and Fusion Quest bow out from the league.
The latter, in their maiden season in the top flight, are now expected to take the opportunity of the break until the coming season to continue to expand their game acumen and hopefully return stronger after an initial season where they also had particularly encouraging good moments.
From Hibs’ side, who ended with equal wins with Depiro but fell short in the play-off race due to the direct encounters, the season still allows them another showing as they will prepare for their KO final showdown against Luxol next month.
Starlites Fijo 68
ARMS Depiro 50
(24-7, 9-15, 15-13, 20-15)
Starlites obtained a comfortable victory over Depiro in a game where the Naxxar side led all throughout the match. They already managed to open a significant 24-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and then never let go to gain, what may be, an important psychological edge over the same opponents who they face in the semi-final play-off series, starting on Sunday.
Amelia Simmons registered a double-double in this game in 30 minutes of court time. The American, who played many seasons locally, had 69% shooting for 26 points, ten rebounds, two assists and four steals in a game where the boards game went totally in Starlites favour 51-39.
Christina Curmi was Starlites’ main rebounder with 12 whilst the influential team skipper Stephanie Demartino added nine boards on her way to a 40-minute game where she also landed 18 points, a team high six assists and four steals.
Guard Mikela Riolo had a poker of assists and rebounds and two from six from long range. One of her treys set off the game as Starlites then had hoops from Maria Bonett, Demartino and Simmons to race to an 11-0 lead after four minutes.
Leanne Duncan grabbed Depiro’s first points off the free throw line but the Mtarfa side’s first hoops had to wait a further two minutes until Australian Casey Samuels had an and-one play.
Samuels ended as the game’s top scorer with 27 points off 53% accuracy, including four from nine three point attempts, as well as 13 rebounds and four assists.
Depiro had some players missing for this game, including captain Claire Ciantar and Julia Borg.
Guard Nicole Agius had 16 points and three assists as she shared the court for the whole game together with Samuels. These two players helped Depiro to a better showing in the second quarter but Starlites were still enjoying a double digit 33-22 lead at the interval.
When play resumed, the third rubber was a more balanced affair with the victors neutralizing every Depiro offensive effort and then ascertained the win with better shooting in the fourth quarter to even increase the margin to over 20 points.
Starlites: M. Riolo 10, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 6, S. DeMartino 18, M. Fenech 4, A. Simmons 26, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, C. Curmi 4.
Depiro: N. Agius 16, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 2, No. Agius, C. Samuels 27, L. Camilleri, J. Magri 3, E. Cassar 2.
Refs: Z.Dobrosavljevic, J. Londono.
Fusion Quest 44
(20-9, 15-10, 17-10, 18-15)
Hibernians notched their fifth league win in the regular season after overcoming Fusion Quest. The latter had an encouraging start to the game as Elena Pace banked in a trey and, seconds later, Fanni Fabok, the team’s top scorer with 19 points, landed a jump shot.
Hibs did get their first buckets through American centre Kenyotta Jenkins and young Julia Dabic followed by the first hoops from their veteran influential tandem Samantha Brincat and Ashleigh van Vliet, who also potted a game-high 19 points.
But Fusion kept their stand for a 9-9 tied game after six minutes as Milica Stefanovic and Natilija Pejcic were accurate in their shots.
The Paolites then started distancing themselves as they closed the first quarter with an 11-0 run started and closed through Elena Cassar second chance buckets.
After holding their ground for six minutes in the second quarter, including a 6-0 run also with an Adriana Caballero hoop, and not falling further back, Fusion dried out in the last part of the first half as Hibs moved on for three back-to-back buckets to have a 16-point lead at the interval.
In the second half, Hibs clearly had the upper edge, especially under the baskets where they out-rebounded Fusion 60-39, as they gradually also extended their lead further and always maintained a 20+ margin.
Hibs: I. Agius 4, A. Van Vliet 19, S. Brincat 7, B. Agius, J. Abela 2, K. Jenkins 18, K. Conti, J. Gauci 2, E. Cassar 14, J. Dabic 4, M. Mendez.
Fusion: T. Azzopardi Deguara, M. Momcilevic 2, M. Stefanovic 3, E. Pace 3, E. Amorin, A. Caballero 6, F. Fabok 19, N. Pejcic 11.
Refs: G. Russo, D. Said Hollier.
Final Standings: Caffe Moak Luxol (11/1) 23; Starlites Fijo (9/3) 21; Arms Depiro (5/7) 17; Hibs (5/7) 17; Fusion Quest (0/12) 12.
PLAYING ON SUNDAY
Play Offs SF Series Game 1
Starlites vs Arms Depiro 16.00
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