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Hibs, Starlites to meet in women’s knockout final

Kim Pirotta (left) launches a Starlites attack against Depiro. Photo: Wally Galea

Luxol edge Hibs in the Men’s cup to set up Starlites semi-final

The two women finalists resulted from different outcomes with Hibs only outdoing Luxol after a tight game whilst Starlites Naxxar were not pushed hard against Depiro.

The Hibs-Caffe Moak Luxol stand-off was decided in the final moments even if the Paolites enjoyed much of the lead for a good chunk of the middle stages of the game.

After a balanced first 19 minutes of play, Hibs managed to open a half-time double-digit lead, 35-24, a closing 8-0 streak with Kristy Caruana notching three hoops.

Inspired by their American guard Kali Koenig but with all the local players on the court grabbing some points, Luxol reopened the game early in the second half until late points, again, by Hibs, this time through Samantha Brincat and Claudia Camilleri had them 52-42 ahead with ten minutes to go.

A 6-0 run, through Koenig and Nicole Vella, made it a tight 54-52 game midway in the last quarter and this close margin persisted until two minutes from time when Cristina Sollami’s hoops had Luxol just three points away.

With Luxol maybe opting too early for three pointers, a Ylenia Bonett close-range floater, followed by two Brincat free throws placed Hibs in a more comfortable position as now there was less than a minute to go.

Luxol committed turnovers and Hibs made sure of a place in the final with concluding foul bonus free throws.

Starlites Naxxar GiG had an easy win over ARMS Depiro with the latter having to do without their import Hannah Johnson for a large part of the game.

The Naxxar side took the helm from the initial jump-ball and stormed to a 24-9 lead after the first quarter with all the outside players from the starting five contributing with hoops.

Depiro’s reaction did not arrive and Starlites further extended their lead in the second quarter closing off the half with an 11-0 streak.

The game was practically decided and the second half resulted in a more balanced affair although Starlites still had the clear upperhand under the boards while Depiro will need to forget this game’s shooting percentages ahead of their next league game in the weekend against the same Starlites.

Hibernians 68
Caffe Moak Luxol 60
(17-16, 18-8, 16-18, 17-18)

Hibs: J. Dabic, I. Agius 5, Y. Bonett 4, S. Brincat 16, B. Agius, J. Abela 8, C. Camilleri, E. Farrugia, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 16, M. Buhagiar 11, Cl. Camilleri 8
Luxol: A. Mifsud, P. Ellul 4, N. Vella 8, M. Pollacco 2, L. Caruana Montaldo, S. Vella 4, K. Portelli 7, A. Borg 3, J. Schembri, M. Grech, C. Sollami 12, K. Koenig 20
Refs: K. Dworniczak, L. Camilleri, V. Nikolic.

ARMS Depiro 34
Starlites Naxxar GiG 70
(9-24, 7-19, 8-9, 10-18)

Depiro: No. Agius, M. Caruana 11, Ni. Agius 11, T. Mifsud, L. Duncan, C. Ciantar 4, J. Xerri 6, N. Hili, H. Johnson, N. Borg 2, E. Cassar.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 9, C. Cilia 2, A. Micallef, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett 10, S. DeMartino 14, C. Curmi 6, J. Diaby 11, P. Arguello 8, K. Pirotta 6, S. Davies 2, E. Azzopardi 2.
Refs: Z. Dobrosavljevic, K. Dworniczak, L. Camilleri.

Hibernians 81
BUPA Luxol 84
(13-23, 20-25, 19-10, 29-31) 

BUPA Luxol had to fight hard until the closing seconds of the game to progress to the next stage in the BOV Knock-Out competition.

Hibernians, similarly to what had happened only three days earlier in the league encounter against Starlites, staged another second-half comeback only to fall just short at the end. 

Although Hibs dominated underneath the boards, especially the offensive ones through Ivan Demcesen’s height and strength advantage, it was Luxol’s superior shooting percentage from inside the arc that proved the winning factor.

The Violets were once again led by a fine shooting display from Kyree Elder who notched more than half his side’s point tally. 

It was Elder who started the game with a three-ball that followed an early hoop but Hibs took an early lead with Nikola Vasovic doing likewise and Demcesen adding close range baskets. 

Three Arsenio Arrington buckets helped Luxol re-establish the lead as they managed to open a double-digit margin, 23-13, after ten minutes of play. 

With Luxol’s import duo continuing their scoring plays assisted also by local guard Jean Paul Schembri, this lead extended to a 39-22 scoreline midway in the second quarter. 

Marko Matijevic, coming off the bench, was instrumental in a Hibs 11-0 streak but in the first half’s final minute, Elder was again on fire with nine points, including a last second four-point play after hitting a three-pointer off the glass and was even unnecessarily fouled in the process. 

Luxol set off again on a positive note in the second half and midway in the third quarter, they had a maximum 56-36 lead.

But here, Hibs started their comeback with a 15-0 run in the space of only four minutes with centres Demcesen and Matijevic as well as forward David Bugeja getting the points. 

Two early Stefan Capello baskets in the final quarter gave some breathing space to Luxol for 62-52. But Hibs kept their belief and managed to draw level 76-76 with two minutes until the final game buzzer. 

As the clock entered its last rotation, Vasovic made it a tight one-point game but Juan Cefai grabbed his only bucket, from the long distance at the other end. 

With seconds ticking, Demcesen gave fresh hopes to the Paolites but Elder was then fouled to stop the clock. He buried the first free throw and even managed to secure the rebound after the second to ascertain his side’s victory and a tie against Starlites Naxxar in the semi-finals. 

The other quarter final, Mellieha Libertas vs Depiro, was posptoned to a later date due to COVID-19. 

Hibernians: P. Attard, D. Bugeja 10, K. Caruana, L. Farrugia 3, N. Cassar, N. Vasovic 22, A. Axiaq 2, M. Matijevic 15, K. Dimech 7, M. Attard, I. Demcesen 22. 
CAFE MOAK Luxol: J. Cefai 3, K. Gauci, A. Ciotti, N. Buhagiar, E. Caruana Montaldo, J.P. Schembri 12, L. Trapani, I. Pace 4, K. Elder 43, S. Opejlevic, A. Arrington 12, S. Cappello 10. 
Refs: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic.

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