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Hibernians, Luxol to meet in BOV KO final

Hibs and BUPA Luxol will face each other in the BOV KO final on March 29. Holders Hibs had a big win over Depiro while Luxol had the better of Starlites GiG in a close and entertaining cup tie.

(19-16, 33-14, 38-19, 28-21)

A 27-8 run, in the last five minutes of the first half, paved the way for what then resulted in a comfortable Hibs win over a Depiro side which was again shorn of the services of their American sharp shooter Quin Cooper.

The latter missed the second game in a row, due to injury, limiting Depiro’s firepower as they also missed local starting five regulars Kurt Xuereb and Nicholas Grech for this game.

Hibs also had their absences with two centres unavailable as Ivan Demcesen and Marko Matijevic were not on the game line-up.

With Jay Hardy and David Bugeja finding their mark early in the game, Hibs raced to an 11-4 lead after just three minutes forcing Depiro to an early timeout.

That somewhat reaped dividends for Depiro as they reacted with a 10-2 run in the next three minutes to even take their only lead in the game. Adam Chomo, Cordarius Johnson and young Andy Attard shared the points in this positive streak.

A brace of hoops respectively from Chandler Rowe and Anton Axiaq helped Hibs to reopen a marginal advantage, 25-22, early in the second quarter.

However the Paolites surprised their opponents with nine points in a row in less than two minutes and although Chomo was afterwards notching some close-range baskets for Depiro, Hibs still managed to distance themselves by the half way mark.

The Paolites kept their consistency in scoring hoops with Nikola Vasovic and Luke Farrugia adding their own baskets for a 52-30 lead at the end of the second quarter.

Depiro started the second half on a good note with five straight points but this was shortlived as Hibs again took the upper edge with a resounding 22-4 run which practically closed off the game with Hardy and Vasovic precise from behind the three-point arc.

The last quarter was a mere formality with both coaches opting to rope in their bench players with Hibs’ Kieron Caruana and Depiro’s Timothy Zammit making good use of this opportunity notching up a number of hoops at opposite ends.

HIBERNIANS: J. Hardy 34, P. Attard 3, D. Bugeja 17, K. Caruana 8, L. Farrugia 5, I. Bonett 2, N. Vasovic 18, A. Axiaq 12, M. Attard 3, C. Rowe 16.
DEPIRO: C. Johnson 14, J. Attard, D. Farrugia 4, A. Attard 7, O. Said 3, M. Brincat, A, Chomo 25, T. Zammit 17.
Referees: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosavljevic, D. Torok.

BUPA LUXOL   85   
(17-12, 18-28, 21-20, 31-35)          

It was a very balanced match between Starlites GiG and Bupa Luxol which started off slowly, as regards point notching at both ends, but then ended on a very high note.

The two semifinalists matched each other throughout and the game stats were practically identical with BUPA Luxol just outperforming their opponents in their three-point shooting accuracy and a slight more precision in shots from the charity line.

Starlites GiG had the first lead as early buckets from Alec Felice Pace, Konor Kulas and Robert Bonnici had the Naxxar side 7-2 up midway in the first quarter.

Luxol shook off their early game tension as William Claiborne and Vukasin Jandric started finding their mark but it was still Starlites who were ahead as late buckets from the young duo Ian Felice Pace and Matthew Scerri  helped the Naxxar side to a 17-12 lead after ten minutes of effective play.

Luxol came out strong in the second quarter with seven consecutive points, including a Keith Dimech and-one play, and the game then was on as the two sides started replying to each other’s efforts.

A brace of Ryan Carabott hoops and a Felice Pace trey gave some breathing space to Starlites midway in the second quarter. But Luxol did not take long to fight back with Jandric and Dimech banging in three balls for a 40-35 lead at half time.

Bobby Ahearn and Kulas re-established Starlites’ lead when play restarted following a 9-2 run but three minutes later, Claiborne netted seven back-to-back points, including a trey, to tip the scale again in Luxol’s favour.

There was little separating the two teams as time was ticking and the third quarter ended with Luxol enjoying a slender but important 60-56 advantage.

The last quarter was a plentiful with baskets. Initially, Luxol extended their lead thereby putting pressure on Starlites.

With Dimech and Jean Paul Schembri getting long distance shots and Mifsud Bonnici notching a floater, Luxol found themselves enjoying a temporary double-digit lead, 72-62, with six minutes to go.

Starlites’ reaction was immediate through Felice Pace and Ahearn but Luxol caught their opponents on a wrong foot again as Jandric and Claiborne had quick hoops for a 79-70 scoreline now with three rotations of the clock left to the final buzzer.

Led at the offensive end by Kulas, Starlites reopened the game, coming just a three-pointer away, 78-81, with less than two minutes to go.

A Jandric trey and two free throws from Claiborne  once again marginally distanced Luxol, although now the clock was more in their favour.

Kulas hit back at the other end, although some missed free throws did not help, and Starlites were still at arms’ length.

With less than a minute to go, a Mifsud Bonnici transition floater found the net opening a seven-point buffer for the Violets.

Starlites had to stop the clock to gain possession but Luxol somewhat kept their cool and the ensuing free throws ascertained this important win for them thereby moving them to the final.

STARLITES: A. Felice Pace 21, B. Zammit, R. Bonnici 11, I. Felice Pace 2, M. Vella, M. Falzon, M. Scerri 8, R. Carabott 10,  K. Kulas 24, R. Ahearn 11.
LUXOL: J. Cefai, V. Jandric 28, N. Andrejevic, L. Trapani, F. Mifsud Bonnici 17, JP Schembri 5, K. Dimech 18, I. Pace, K. Gauci,W. Claiborne 27.
Referees:  B. Vassallo, I. Simic, K. Dworniczak.

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