Posted on Tuesday 17th April 2012
Champions Athleta drew first blood in the final series after beating Depiro in front of a sizeable crowd at the pavilion. Also on Sunday, Hibs and Depiro started the best-of-three women’s league semi-final series on a winning note following victories over Luxol and Loyola respectively.
Athleta A-Z Electronics 70
Depiro Mtarfa 54
(16-9, 18-14, 7-15, 29-16)
Though playing without Greg Hamlin, still recovering from minor surgery in midweek, it was only in the last quarter that underdogs Depiro succumbed to Athleta.
Depiro took their time to settle on court as Marco Todorovic’s baskets put Athleta in the driving seat early on. After a time-out, Depiro started to defend better to share the exchanges till the end of the session.
The next ten minutes provided better fare with Athleta just managing to increase their lead till the half-time break to 34-23.
Depiro were back on court adopting a more aggressive zone defence and this somewhat troubled Joe Galea’s team who laboured in attack. In fact, it was only after six minutes of this session that they potted their first basket.
Depiro forged ahead 37-36 but five points from Steve Schembri helped Athleta to start the last ten minutes 41-38 ahead.
Two Roderick Vella free-throws moved Depiro a point away (41-40).
Game still on Depiro might have thought but a series of three pointers by Schembri followed by quick baskets from Todorovic saw Athleta chalking up 16 consecutive points, paving the road towards victory.
That was the defining moment of the opening play-off as Athleta were now oozing confidence and on the evidence of this performance it would be hard for Depiro to wrest the title crown from their grasp.
Athleta: M. Naudi 10, I. Buldakov, D. Bugeja 2, M. Todorovic 20, M. Giusti, S. Schembri 19, O. Said 8, D. Schembri 6, A. Bonnici 5, K. Baldacchino, A. Fekete.
Depiro: R. Vella 20, J.P. Sammut, N. Sultana 13, A. Aquilina 4, A. Portelli 7, A. Micallef 6, E. Lupo, M. Mallia 2, I. Tanti 2.
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, A. Carbonaro.