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Hibernians, Depiro thrown out of men’s league play-offs semi-finals

The Malta Basketball Association came down heavily on Hibernians and Depiro as both teams were kicked out of the men’s league with immediate effect after they were found guilty of bringing the game into serious disrepute during last weekend’s match.

Depiro coach James Bamfield and Mario Tabone, of Hibernians, were also suspended for the remainder of the 2021-22 season and the full 2022-23 campaign from all MBA activities.

The local governing body charged both Hibs and Depiro on the performance and behaviour shown by the two sets of players in the closing stages of the game last Saturday.

The incident, which took place for the final six minutes of the game, refers to the way both sets of players failed to score a single point as well as committing numerous violations and turnovers.

In a statement, the MBA Council said that over the past few days, they analysed the video footage of the match, especially the closing minutes, and heard the testimonies given by committee members, coaches and the captains of the teams involved.

It added that the Council unanimously agreed that the game lost its integrity in the fourth quarter from the fourth-minute mark.

“The MBA Council ruled that both teams, their coaches and the players on court for the last six minutes of the match, have brought the game into serious disrepute through their inappropriate and unsporting behaviour,” the statement said.

“The game in question is declared null and void. Hibernians BC and Depiro BC shall be suspended from this season’s Men’s National League Play-offs and both teams shall incur a three-point deduction commencing the next season the club fields a men’s senior division team.

“The MBA Council has found fault in the respective clubs’ inaction in failing to reprimand and request their coaches to alter their strategy for the final minute of the fourth quarter. For their inaction, the MBA Council fines each team a total of €2,500, which fine is to be paid within 30 calendar days of the penalty being published by the MBA Council.

“The coaches James Bamfield, of Depiro BC, and Mario Tabone, of Hibernians, failed to uphold the integrity of the sport, and as a result of their actions, brought the game of Maltese basketball into disrepute not only locally but also across several international media platforms. Subsequently, the MBA Council suspends each respective coach for the remainder of the 2021-22 season and the full season of 2022-23 from all MBA activities.”

The MBA also said that players involved in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and who are over 18 years have been handed a three-match ban.

These were Peter Shoults, Anton Axiaq, Keith Dimech, Luke Farrugia, and Neil Cassar, of Hibernians, and Shaun Galea, Julian Micallef and Luca Vella of Depiro.

On the other hand, Depiro players, Luke Attard and Shaun Kennelly, who have not yet attained the legal age of 18 years, had their three-game ban suspended for three years.

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