|Basketball – Bank of Valletta KO semi-finals: Hibs Medsea to face McDonalds Depiro in final|
As expected the champions made their way into the final as they registered their fourth seasonal victory over Athleta.
They did not have it all their own way as Athleta provided stiff opposition at times but Hibs struck back when it mattered and opened up their lead in the second part of the match to deny Athleta any occasion to make a game of it at the end. Kirsten Micallef distinguished herself with a total of seven triples in this encounter.
Atheta had missing players such as Dorien Jager and Rhian Spiteri both work tied and Chantelle Mifsud. The champions had Maria Desira on the bench for the whole game.
After Athleta’s opening hoop the Paolites replied with a brace of hoops but so did Athleta as Dana Mckeon put in her second basket. Hibs then pressed to total a 9-0 run with two Lucienne Bezzina drives and a Kirsten Micallef triple.
Athleta reacted to cut down on their deficit but Micaqllef netted her second trey and Doreen Micallef was accurate from the distance. Seconds from the end of the opening period Leanne Sciberras put in a triple for Athleta.
The Paolites opened up strongly in the second session and two Joselle Cardona hoops preceded two more Micallef triples and Hibs made up a 12-2 run as they broke clear at 33-16.
Athleta responded well and answered with a good 10-2 runas sciberras kept on making points. A seried of Alexis Darmanin free throws closed down the period and at the interval the champions were on a 39-26 advantage.
After the break, Hibs were somewhat surprised by Athleta’s controlled play and a 10-2 run with a Marouska Azzopardi Duca triple had the champions’ lead being drastically cut down.
Over half the session had passed before the Paolites recovered and Micallef netted a further triple to start a 9-0 run with more free throws late in the session. Hibs managed to climb back to a steady 50-36 advantage.
There was some balanced play at teh start of the final period but later on Hibs made a 7-2 run with a Bezzina triple and their lead escalated. They were not content and they spent the rest of the match making up a 12-0 run with Micallef excelling with two more treys with Athleta unable to make progress and capture their previous form.
Hibs: E. Micallef, E. Cassar, D. Cassar, 12 L. Bezzina, F. Tabone, 14 D. Micallef, 9 A. Darmanin, 2 N. Arrigo, 21 K. Micallef, 12 J. Cardona.
Athleta: 7 D. Bayliss, 7 L. Calleja, 13 L. Sciberras, 3 M. Azzopardi Duca, G. Muscat, 6 D. McKeon, 6 C. Galea, 2 F. Farrugia.
Referees: Alfred Carbonaro, Brian Sly.
McDonalds Depiro 65
Depiro earned a place in the final after falling behind just after the interval.
Luxol seemed on the way as Steffi de Martino bludgeoned the Depiro defence after the break but they became foul hit and their defence suffered. Greta Zarb’s triples started the way back for Depiro and Antoinette Borg’s hoops complimented Kaila Agius’ points and De Martino by far the top scorer in the game had to finish on the losing side.
Depiro are now level on two games each with Luxol and also avenged their Shield final defeat against the Violets.
Luxol presented a team of seven players with Emma Moore just a spectator and Becky Naudi missing. Depiro were without Kelly Busuttil.
Both teams took time to net their opening points but then Depiro went in front but the Violets managed to overturn the score at 5-4.
When Luxol fell behind once more they had De Martino sinking a triple. For Depiro there was Kaila Agius and her points in a late 8-0 run which had her side opening a lead.
Luxol began well in the second period and managed to put in a 7-0 run as Mandi Sciortino made the last two hoops.
Luxol’s newly gained advantage was shortlived as Sarah Pace netted a triple; but a little later Beverlee Zammit did the same at the other end. Late in the period Depiro reacted and their free throws earned them a slight low score advantage on a 24-23 score at the interval.
After the break Depiro had to face a de Martino on fire. She poured in a total of 11 points in a solid 13-0 run as the Violets sailed clear but they had become foul hit.
Depiro had Greta Zarb nailing a trey as they tried to claw their way back. Zarb’s second triple in an 8-2 run had Depiro going close once more despite De Martino’s further points.
After three sessions Luxol were on a 44-39 advantage. Agius brought Depiro just behind their adversaries but Luxol held out even after a Zarb third trey.
Borg then began to hit Luxol’s defence and an 8-0 run pushed Depiro ahead at 56-50. The Violets’next baskets were only as a reply to Depiro’s further points.
With time running out Borg netted two more drives giving her side a winning cushion. De Martino nailed a second triple but there were only seconds remaining for Depiro to play out.
Luxol: 11 M. Sciortino 30 S. De Martino P. Ellul 6 D. Muscat 8 L. Chetcuti T. De Martino 6 B. Zammit.
Depiro: 11 S. Pace 19 G. Zarb J. Xuereb A. Mifsud C. Tanti A. Demanuele J. Busuttil Gaerty 12 A. Borg 4 C. Mifsud E. Vella 2 S. Micallef 17 K. Agius.
Referees: Emanuel Mangani Anthony Micallef.