Article published on 27 March 2012
by Willie Vassallo
Floriana Francesco Fenech 74
Depiro Mtarfa 67
(16-10, 16-23, 25-19, 17-15)
Floriana are just a step away from the final after this victory obtained against a Depiro outfit who are also eager to bring back some glory days to the club.
It was a closely fought encounter with Depiro enjoying leads till after the break but then the Greens went in front and Depiro had to do the chasing till the end of the match.
The game began with three officials reduced to two after the interval when the international referee Bernard Vassallo tore a leg muscle seconds before the break and had to cry off the remaining two sessions of play. Both sides fielded their latest full squads.
Adrian Micallef replied to Floriana’s opening hoop with a couple of baskets but the Greens turned in an 8-0 run mainly from Chris Sammut. Depiro recovered and more Micallef points and a Greg Hamlin triple took them close. Evan Fjeld made a Floriana reply with a brace of hoops as his side held on to a first session lead.
In the second period Depiro opened strongly and made up a 10-0 run with a Nigel Sultana triple as they forged in front. Floriana retaliated and despite an Andrew Aquilina trey more Fjeld points took them to a tie. Depiro promptly had Aquilina with a second triple and further points for a better advantage. The last stages of the period saw the Greens put in a determined effort but they fell just short of their adversaries with further Fjeld points. At the interval Depiro were just ahead on a 33-32 score.
The two sides stayed close to each other after the break and the lead was changing hands. Depiro opened up a useful lead only for Floriana to make up a 10-2 run ending with an Ian Mercieca triple. Depiro came back to level terms on three occasions but the Greens had the last word taking a 57-52 advantage after three sessions.
Depiro drew nearer in the first minutes but Floriana passed through a positive spell with a 9-0 run which had them away from their opponents on a double figure lead. Depiro returned with a will and a 10-0 run to breathe down the Greens’ necks. Floriana stood firm to edge away again and this time the last free throws of the match went their way as they made sure of the opening game.
Floriana: J. Curmi, 22 C. Sammut, 7 I. Mercieca, 2 S. Sammut, 7 C. Calleja, A. Baldacchino, 34 E. Fjeld, 2 A. Sultana, M. Ciantar
Depiro: 9 R. Vella, JP Schembri, 9 N. Sultana, 8 A. Aquilina, 3 A. Portelli, 14 A.Micallef, E. Lupo, M. Mallia, 4 I. Tanti, 20 G. Hamlin
Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, S. Gouder