Depiro Mtarfa 51
Loyola Tata Motors 56
(11-13, 15-9, 15-17, 10-17)
Loyola took advantage of Depiro’s collapse in the last five minutes to chalk up their first league victory.
Loyola surprised Depiro whose captain and top-scorer Roderick Vella was subjected to man-marking by Shawn Pace.
A time-out by coach Ray Muscat addressed Depiro’s attacking difficulties after Loyola had stormed 11-2 ahead. Depiro improved to cut the gap to a single basket (13-11) by the end of the first quarter.
The game remained balanced with Depiro changing ends 26-22 ahead. The level of play improved after half-time with Loyola making it evens at 33-33 by the fifth minute.
There was little between the two teams at this stage but Depiro managed to go back in front, 41-39.
Depiro stayed ahead until six minutes from the buzzer, 50-46. After that, Loyola’s aggressive ap-proach rocked Depiro.
As Depiro fluffed their last five free-throws, Loyola nosed ahead in the last minute thanks to Giovan Mihalovic’s basket. The same player nailed a fortuitous three-pointer as the 24-second possession period expired. This proved to be the winning basket as Depiro failed to recover.
Depiro: R. Vella 10, J.P. Schembri 3, D. Bugeja 6, A. Aquilina 12, J.Gatt 4, E. Lupo 11, M. Mallia 4, I. Tanti 1, G. Mercieca.
Loyola: S. Pace 5, B. Zammit 15, D. Camilleri, S. Borg, L. Azzopardi, F. Nicastro, S. Vella 6, A. Axiaq 6, G. Mihalovic 14, J. Anastasi 3, J. Ransley 3, A. Tabone 4.
Referees: B. Vassallo, J.P. Sammut, E. Mangani.
Standings: Athleta 10 (5-0); Siġġiewi 7 (3-1); Luxol 7 (2-3); Depiro 6 (1-4); Loyola 6 (1-4).
Top scorers: P. Apcev (Luxol) 107; M. Naudi (Athleta) 102; O. Said (Athleta) 93.