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Starlites secure third Louis Borg Cup title

Starlites players celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Wally Galea

(on aggregate)

The Louis Borg Cup final was characterised by Starlites FIJO’s supremacy in the middle quarters as the Naxxar side celebrated their third Louis Borg Cup triumph after wins in 2017 and 2018.

Starlites side hit Luxol with a series of small, yet significant, streaks culminating with an 11-0 run at the end of the third quarter which led the Naxxar side to a somewhat surprising 54-32 lead.

In fact, the first game ended with a considerable buffer for Starlites of just over 20 points, thereby putting enormous pressure on Caffe Moak Luxol for the return match within 48 hours.

Incidentally, it was Luxol who had the better start as baskets from Paula Ellul and Antoinette Borg had them 5-0 ahead very early on.

The St Andrews side managed to maintain the lead for most of the first rubber with a Sarah Pace bucket which led them to 11-8. However, Starlites managed to close the quarter just marginally ahead following respective baskets from Amelia Simmons and Stephanie Demartino.

Two small four- and six-point breaks started moving Starlites further ahead as Simmons continued finding the opposing net assisted by Christina Curmi with a brace of buckets.

Ten points separated the two finalists at the interval, 29-19, with Luxol having a good start in the second half with a 7-2 run which had them close the deficit to merely five points, 26-31.

In the next nine minutes, Starlites took complete control of the match netting 23 points to their opponents’ six.

Here, guards Mikela Riolo and Maria Bonett contributed with some hoops as Simmons continued to dominate the key in a game where Starlites’ coach Sandro Farrugia opted to keep the starting five all the time on the court.

Facing a big deficit, Luxol tried to get back on track in the final quarter and had a good patch with buckets off Josephine Diaby and young Anne Fenech Pace. But Starlites reopened a bigger margin with a series of late free throws.

Luxol had a mountain to climb in the second game with Starlites again effecting good defensive pressure especially on Luxol’s Brazilian import player Palmira Marcal who could not find her right footing in this double final tie.

The first seconds saw Luxol take a 5-0 early lead but Starlites gradually replied and even took the upper edge.

As time went further by, Luxol’s task became more and more difficult and now they will surely have to go back to the drawing board under the expert guidance of coach Santino Coppa in preparation for the start of the women’s league final series on a best of five format against Hibernians.

It was a 34-33 Luxol lead at the interval but the first game’s margin was playing an influential role and the series was totally determined in the subsequent third quarter when Starlites, playing their last seasonal game, opened a double-digit lead with Simmons and Demartino leading the pack offensively.

The last quarter, albeit very evenly balanced, was a mere formality as Starlites were only waiting for the final buzzer to celebrate their success. Mark Borg, son of the late Louis Borg, presented the trophy and medals to the jubilant Starlites clan.

Game 1

Caffe Moak Luxol 45
Starlites Fijo 66
(11-12, 8-17, 13-23, 13-14)

Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 10, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, P. Marcal 4, A. Borg 5, P. Ellul 9, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 13, A. Fenech Pace 4.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina, M. Riolo 7, A. Saliba, K. Mifsud, M. Bonett 8, S. DeMartino 13, K. Portelli, A. Simmons 28, M. Fenech, D. Camilleri, S. Davies, C. Curmi 10.
Referees: I. Simic, N. Azzopardi, Z. Dobrosavljevic.

Game 2

Starlites Fijo 70
Caffe Moak Luxol 55
(14-17, 19-17, 19-5, 18-16)

Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 4, M. Riolo 13, A. Saliba, K. Mifsud, M. Bonett 3, S. DeMartino 15, K. Portelli, A. Simmons 24, M. Fenech, D. Camilleri, S. Davies 2, C. Curmi 9.
Luxol: L. Fenech Pace 4, V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 12, H. Galea, P. Marcal 10, A. Borg, P. Ellul 13, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 12, A. Fenech Pace 4.
Referees: D. Torok, Z. Dobrosavljevic, K. Dworniczak.

U-23 Women’s League

Final Game 2

(12-9, 18-15, 2-15, 19-15)

Starlites came into this game enjoying a 1-0 lead in the best of three series after a 91-55 victory a week earlier. They had to fight harder this time to notch the second decisive win to raise the 2022 U-23 women’s trophy.

The game had a very balanced start with Kirsty Caruana grabbing the game’s first two baskets which were then replied at the other end through initial hoops from Mikela Riolo and Kaya Mifsud.

Later buckets from Michela Zammit Cordina and Emma Azzopardi helped the Naxxar side to a 12-9 first-quarter lead which was then extended, momentarily, to double digits midway in the second rubber at 24-13.

Here Hibs had their best moment in the game as they hit their opponents with an 11-3 run with Jasmine Abela nailing two treys.

It was only a brace of late first half baskets from Andrea Saliba that helped Starlites to a 30-24 interval lead.

Hibs tried hard to keep in the game as Ylenia Bonett and Julia Dabic helped Caruana, but they could not reach Starlites who managed to always neutralise their efforts.

In a final push in the fourth quarter, Hibs pressed hard again but two back-to-back threeballs from Zammit Cordina and Riolo practically sealed the game and ascertained Starlites’ league triumph.

MBA president Paul Sultana presented Starlites with the winning trophy.

Starlites: E. Degiorgio, M. Riolo 15, V. Micallef, K. Mifsud 13, M. Zammit Cordina 20, A. Saliba 17, M. Fenech 2, D. Camilleri, M. Sciberras, C. Vella, E. Azzopardi 2.
Hibernians: K. Caruana 30, Y. Bonett 5, J. Abela 6, B. Agius, C. Camilleri 2, E. Farrugia, K. Conti, K. Fenech, J. Gauci, J. Dabic 12, J. Spiteri.
Referees: N. Azzopardi, Z. Dobrosavljevic, F. Fabok.

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