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Hibernians and Depiro reach men’s KO semi-finals

Hibernians player David Bugeja (left) moves past Stephan Vincic. Photo: Wallly Galea

Gżira Athleta  81

Hibernians      95

(15-30, 29-20, 18-22, 19-23)

Hibs had to dig deep to overcome Gżira Athleta’s resistance in this Knock-Out tie and now will face Starlites Naxxar in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Hibs set off on a strong note and surprised their opponents in the first quarter opening a 26-10 lead after nine minutes of play.

The Paolites’ starting five were on song and the US tandem, Mason Vires and Christian Soderholm, were instrumental in this good patch assisted by hoops from David Bugeja.

Hibs’ positive momentum continued early in the second quarter when they started with a 6-0 run, including a brace of baskets from Ivan Demcesen, to extend their lead to 36-10.

Here, Gżira Athleta started finding more their composure with Shawn Montague notching seven consecutive points.

Gradually the deficit started being gnawed away and a late first half 9-2 streak, with Zachary Hudson grabbing a brace of hoops, helped Gżira to reduce Hibs’ lead to a mere three points, 45-42.

The game was now wide open, and the third quarter was a balanced tussle between the two sides.

Even if Hibs always kept the lead, Gżira Athleta were very close to their heels up till the closing moments of the third quarter.

The game changed somewhat in the first moments of the last rubber when Hibs took again the upper edge with a 12-2 run which led them to another significant lead.

Anton Axiaq grabbed seven points in this run which now placed new pressure on Athleta, however, with time now running out.

Athleta did try to recover but their efforts were neutralised by the Paolites as the latter ascertained their win.

Gżira Athleta: Z. Hudson 31, S. Montague 35, L. Stefanovic 2, J. Ellul Dowling 5, N. Xuereb 3, S. Vincic 2, R. Abela, B. Zammit 3.

Hibernians: M. Vires 28, N. Cassar, M. Vucinic, D. Bugeja 12, L. Farrugia, K. Dimech 7, A. Axiaq 9, R. Aquilina, M. Attard, C. Soderholm 19, I. Demcesen 20.

Refs: B. Vassallo, K. Dworniczak, Z. Dobrosavljevic.

BUPA Luxol     60

Depiro             75

(24-23, 8-18, 13-12, 15-22)

A second quarter 11-0 streak helped Depiro distance themselves from their opponents and open a double-digit lead which BUPA Luxol, despite all their efforts, could never recover even if they managed to reduce the deficit on a number of occasions till the final buzzer.

The game had a very lively first quarter full of open play at both ends with Luxol also managing to close off the same quarter 24-23 ahead as three-balls from Paul Attard, Juan Cefai and Canaan Coffey added to Marko Matijevic’s early close-range shots.

Depiro overturned the score with their early second-quarter run as Nicholas Grech’s hoops sandwiched the baskets from TJ Atwood and Alex Oriakhi.

Although Luxol managed to regain their scoring touch, Depiro still maintained the upper hand and managed to keep their double-digit lead going to 49-39 midway into the third quarter.

Another strong start to a quarter, this time in the last rubber, helped Depiro extend their lead further.

Despite Coffey’s attempts to spur on his Luxol team-mates, Depiro kept their rhythm and further hoops from their US tandem Atwood/Oriakhi made sure of their victory and they now await Mellieħa Libertas in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Luxol: J. Cefai 8, K. Gauci, M. Sciberras, N. Buhagiar 5, P. Attard 6, JP Schembri 3, A. Trapani, L. Trapani, C. Coffey 25, S. Opojevlic 3, M. Matijevic 10.

Depiro: S. Galea 2, B. Nel, A. Attard 2, N. Grech 12, T. Atwood 26, M. Brincat 6, M. Mallia 5, A. Oriakhi 18, M. Debattista, L. Vella, S. Vella, T. Reese 4.

Refs: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrasevljevic, F. Ciurariu.

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