Published on Tuesday 19th February 2013
Depiro and Luxol warmed up for Sunday’s BOVKO final with morale-boosting victories in the National League last weekend.
Leaders Depiro had to be alert all the time to finally break the bold resistance of third-placed Alyssa Ashley Loyola even though the final 74-63 scoreline might indicate a comfortable victory for the winners. In fact, it was only in the last couple of minutes, after Loyola had three players fouled out, that Sam Brincat planted two quick three-pointers for Depiro to make sure of their eighth win from nine matches. Until then, victory could have gone either way.
Loyola potted the opening five points of the game but Luxol hit back strongly to go 23-13 in front at the end of the first quarter. Loyola had a good start to the second session to close the gap to a single basket – 23-21. Depiro halted the rot to share the exchanges and at half-time they were enjoying a slim 33-32 lead. Three minutes from the restart, Loyola took the lead, 39-38, and went on to start the last ten minutes 51-49 ahead with league top-scorer Brietta Thomas doing most of the damage (she finished with 46 points). However, Depiro, mainly thanks to their US player Latisha Belcher, managed to put their noses in front, 59-57. Loyola fought back bravely but Depiro finished off their opponents with the last ten points of the match.
Champions Luxol had little difficulty in disposing of Hibs’ weak challenge 54-41 in a match where the two sides had some regulars missing.
Luxol won the first quarter 20-6 and never looked back as they continued to pull away, changing ends with a clear 34-15 lead. With Luxol giving time to their fringe players on court, Hibs were able to stem the tide against them and in the end made the score look somewhat more respectable. However, the champions’ victory was never in doubt.
Meanwhile, Athleta returned to winning ways in the league after beating Qormi 58-32. After a balanced opening, Athleta started pulling away to change ends 37-14 ahead. Athleta were always in control and Qormi’s hopes were dashed when their chief points-getter Brittaney Thomas got disqualified for protests.
Standings: Depiro 17 (8-1), Luxol 15 (7-1), Loyola 15 (6-3), Hibs 14 (5-4), Athleta 12 (3-6), Qormi 9 (1-7), Starlites 8 (0-8).
Top-scorers: Brietta Thomas (Loyola) 291, Brittaney Thomas (Qormi) 241, S. Demartino (Depiro) 206, L. Belche (Depiro) 181, K. Sanga (Hibs) 180.