Malta opened their FIBA European Small Countries Championship commitments with a statement win on Wednesday as they blew out Andorra to win 79-30. However, the Malta women now face stronger opposition in Ireland, a side who had also cruised past the Andorrans a day before.
Against Andorra, Starlites forward Stephanie De Martino was the top point-getter with 20, also adding seven rebounds and three assists. Speaking to the Times of Malta after the game, De Martino said it was crucial for them as “it’s the first game we played together in two years due to COVID-19”.
“We are a new team with a mixture of experienced and young players so going all out today and securing this win was crucial to unlocking our possibilities to reach the semi-final but also to gain confidence for tomorrow’s (Thursday) game.
“I’m super proud and happy with the team’s performance as all 12 players stepped up, took responsibility and left their mark in the game. I think my personal performance was a reflection of the great team I am surrounded with.”
This rings true, considering the fact that all but one player in the 12-player roster put their names on the board on Wednesday. Angela Adamoli’s girls also dominated when it came to assists – with 24 assists by Malta players compared to just three by Andorra. Moreover, the team performed when it came to rebounding the ball, grabbing 57 boards compared to the 41 grabbed by the Andorrans.
While the lead never changed on Wednesday, especially due to a considerable number of turnovers by the Andorrans, this might not be the case against Ireland, who have shown they are one of the sides to beat.
“Tomorrow’s game is definitely tougher, but this is the game we’ve been preparing for a month and a half. We’ve played against Ireland before and we know what we are up against,” De Martino explained.
The forward insists it will be defense and rebounding which will make all the difference on Thursday.
“Stronger defense and attacking the boards both on offense and defense will help get us that one step closer to the dream,” she said.
“But most importantly, when we step on that court all players are equal – it’s the heart that wins the game.”
Malta vs Ireland tips off at 3PM. WATCH HERE