by Willie Vassallo
Athleta had already beaten Depiro on three occasions but two of them were slim victories. Conscious of this fact and even though Athleta left Michael Naudi on the bench their dominance began to show with each passing session as they were ably led by a resurgent Addison Bonnici.
Depiro are a tough cookie but they could do nothing against the Athleta machine who rolled their way into another final.
Jonathan Camilleri was missing for Depiro. Along with Clayton Calleja Naudi also was rested for this encounter and Athleta really had no need for his services.
Athleta put in the game’s frist two hoops but Depiro got into the spirit of things with a 9-0 run and Roderick Vella points along with a JP Schembri triple. Athleta had their reaction and Depiro had to concede a 0-8 run when Athleta swept into the lead.
It was Isaac Tanti who replied for Depiro and the sides were on level terms at the end of the session. Athleta began with a Steve Schembri triple in the second quarter. Depiro stayed close with more Vella points but Athleta began to seem to have the measure of their opponents who they kept at arms’ length until Vella sank his trey taking Depiro close.
Until the end of the period Athleta strode forward once more and put in another 9-2 run when they opened their advantage to a double figure one at 37-27 in the interval.
Athleta lost no time to obtain a better lead after the break through the Schembri brothers. Depiro responded well with an 8-2 run and a second Schembri triple which kept them hoping.
Athleta pushed forward and their advantage went into double figures once more as Bonnici was playing on top of his form. His last points brought Athleta to a comfortable 59-42 score with a session to go. There was no stopping Bonnici at this time as he poured in three more hoops in the last period.
Athleta went way out in front and their bench players had their share of the match. Depiro took the occasion to make up 1 7-2 run with a further Schembri triple.
Omar Said also netted a trey for Athleta and they continued to impose their superiority till the end when Etienne Bezzina closed down the encounter with another triple.
Depiro: 14 R. Vella, 16 JP Schembri, 2 D. Bugeja, 5 A. Aquilina, J. Gatt, 4 E. Lupo, M. Mallia, 12 I. Tanti, G. Mercieca
Athleta: M. Naudi, J. Zammit, C. Galea, 3 E. Bezzina, 15 D. Schembri, 9 O. Said, 26 A. Bonnici, 8 K. Baldacchino, A. Ryan, 16 S. Schembri
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, E. Mangani