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Semi-final pairings set in women’s MBA Shield

Luxol’s Jennifer Oramas goes for the basket despite the challenge of Depiro’s Nicole Agius. PHOTO: WALLY GALEA

Game day two of the women’s MBA Shield competition led to some interesting outcomes. Hibs made sure of ending the group stage at the top of the standings and face the fourth-placed team, ARMS Depiro, in the semifinals, whilst Caffe Moak Luxol registered their first seasonal win.

The St Andrew’s side will now have to face Starlites Naxxar, who had to bow down to Hibs in the past weekend, twice in a row, first in the final group stage game and then in the semi-finals stage.

Starlites Naxxar           49

Hibernians       71                              

(11-18, 9-10, 15-20, 14-23)

Hibs continued their good start to the season, registering a second consecutive win and ascertaining the top position in the standings at the end of the initial group stage.

On the other hand, Starlites Naxxar, still without a professional import player, suffered their first seasonal defeat, after beating Luxol on game day one.

Their efforts suffered a further setback when they lost their sharpshooter Stephanie Demartino through injury close to midway into the game.

The Paolites set off on a high note as a Samantha Brincat threeball was immediately followed by a Kenyotta Jenkins hoop and a bucket from young Ylenia Bonett who ended as the game’s top scorer, netting 21 personal points.

Maria Bonett nailed Starlites’ first hoop in the game but Hibs maintained the lead for an 18-11 margin after the first quarter.

The gap between the two sides closed up momentarily at the start of the second rubber as a brace of Demartino hoops around a Samantha Farrugia Tabone basket and freeshots from Christina Curmi brought the encounter to a three-point game.

A brace of Brincat treys immediately after the interval helped Hibs to open a double-digit margin and although Starlites tried their best to re-open the game, with guard Mikela Riolo also netting a trio of back-to-back baskets, Hibs kept their tempo and 10 points shared between Bonett and Jenkins made it 52-35 with nine minutes to the final buzzer.

Starlites’ final attempts proved futile as Hibs made sure of the victory with a 12-point rally. Two respective young guards, Andrea Saliba and Marie Buhagiar grabbed the opportunity to notch some hoops at the closing stages of the game.

Starlites: A. Saliba 6, M. Riolo 12, J. Micallef 2, S. Farrugia Tabone 2, M. Bonett 9, S. DeMartino 9, K. Portelli 1, M. Fenech, C. Vella, D. Camilleri 2, S. Davies 1, C. Curmi 5

Hibs: M. Buhagiar 6, E. Farrugia, I. Agius 4, Y. Bonett 21, A. Van Vliet 8, S. Brincat 11, J. Abela, C. Camilleri 2, K. Caruana 3, K. Jenkins 16.

Referees: I. Simic, I. Ciurariu, F. Fabok.

ARMS Depiro 49

Caffe Moak Luxol         61                            

(12-18, 14-10, 6-9, 17-24)

A 19-5 run in the final quarter paved the way for Caffe Moak Luxol to register their first win and left ARMS Depiro still searching for the first success of the season.

The game was totally open until the 32nd minute with only a normal hoop separating the two sides at 39-37, yet two Sharon Vella hoops set Luxol – under the play-calling of Italian veteran Santino Coppa – on a decisive rally with five players contributing to move the Violets to a 58-42 scoreline with less than two minutes to play.

Import player Jenniffer Oramas led Luxol to an early 10-2 lead midway in the initial quarter and although Josephine Diaby also got a brace of late hoops, Depiro managed to close off the margin with late points from their guard Nicole Agius for 12-18.

Despite them still shorn of the services of their US forward Hannah Johnson, who is out injured, Depiro showed character as they also managed to forge ahead 26-24 with hoops from Leanne Duncan and young centre Danika Galea.

After the interval, Luxol, who also introduced Italian veteran and ex-Italy international and WNBA player, Susanna Bonfiglio as their reserve import player, improved their offensive ploys with a nine-point rally to end ahead in the third quarter.

A Monique Caruana trey followed by a Claire Ciantar hoop made it a tight 37-39 game with eight minutes to go.

However Luxol took the definitive upper edge as they outscored their opponents in the next six minutes with a 19-5 run which closed off the game.

Depiro: M. Caruana 9, N. Agius 12, J. Xerri 2, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 5, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 8, N. Hili, N. Ebejer, N. Borg 5, D. Galea 8, E. Cassar

Luxol: S. Pace 8, M. Mercieca 2, N. Vella 2, F. Camilleri, S. Vella 10, J. Schembri, A. Borg, P. Ellul, J. Diaby 21, S. Bonfiglio, A. Fenech Pace, J. Oramas 18.

Referees: D. Torok, N. Azzopardi, I. Ciurariu.

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