The Malta Basketball Association (MBA) has opened an investigation over the performances and behaviour of both sets of players during the last game day fixture between Hibernians and Depiro BC from the BOV Men’s National League.
A video circulating online showing the last six minutes of the game on Saturday displays a completely different version of two sides that have reached the playoffs round this season, with Hibernians currently the second seed and Depiro now the third seed of the standings.
The game eventually ended in a 69-68 win for Depiro, which pits them against each other in the post-season opener.
Starlites Naxxar, the top seed – and on paper the team to beat – face first-time playoff side Mellieha Libertas after the pair faced off earlier in the day, and Starlites emerged as victors 75-72. However, the outcome might end up heading in a different direction following this incident.
Speaking to the Times of Malta in response to the incident, MBA president Paul Sultana condemned what allegedly happened, saying that it is “a shameful act against all sporting values”. He added that from the way it appeared, both sides had put the game in disrepute.
Sultana said that the MBA Council is set to meet up for an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the official statute and regulations in terms of finding a way forward in terms of reprimanding the clubs and to establish whether said council has the power to take the final decision.
“Whatever is decided, the repercussions are going to be big and the outcome of the game will be different. The persons responsible for taking this decision will be at the end of what is coming,” the MBA supremo said.
Both sides have had strong showings throughout the season, particularly Hibs who have already won three of the domestic titles so far this season – all three Cups – and are possibly Starlites’ toughest rivals for the league title.
But in the video, which also made the rounds overseas, it appeared as though both sets of players were throwing the game away.
“The idea of what happened, in my opinion, is to avoid another team in the playoffs. But it’s still too early to see what will happen exactly in terms of the playoff picture. The investigation must be carried out – the clubs, coaches and players must be approached and we will investigate who instigated this and why,” Sultana said.
The process begins on Monday to establish what is to come from all this. However, Sultana emphasized that the matter is being taken care of, particularly as he stressed that this had shed a bad light both on the sport and the local community after also appearing overseas.
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