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Watch: Malta’s girls win FIBA Games opener against Kosovo

Stephanie De Martino (right) drives towards the hoop against Kosovo. Photo: FIBA

Malta’s girls affected their revenge on Kosovo after having lost out on a bronze medal last year, with a 68-61 victory in Nicosia, Cyprus on Tuesday.

It was a tight contest that had a barrage of threes as the cause for effect, primarily from Malta’s Stephanie De Martino(5) and Nicola Handreck (4). 

De Martino lead the game’s scoring with 25 points, as Josephine Diaby added 19 and Handreck scored 14. For Kosovo, Saranda Daci led with 18, Astera Tuhina adding 17.

Coach Adamoli fielded Sophie Abela, Handreck, De Martino, Ashlie Van Vliet, and Diaby as her starting five. The latter won the tip and Malta had the lion’s share of possession before De Martino opened with a drive to the hoop.

Kosovo equalised with two Abnore Perquku hits from the charity stripe and took the lead through a Daci double as Malta struggled to hit their shots.

Diaby brought Malta to within two from under the rim with half of the first quarter already played. 

A foul on Galea put Malta into the bonus as the Kosovars suffered when keeping Malta’s attacks at bay. From the line, Galea brought Malta level again at 6-6.

De Martino’s three-pointer put Malta back ahead with four minutes to go as Adamoli’s girls finally began to settle into the game and show their dominance. 

Handreck added another three-ball as Malta went into double digits as Malta continued to step up for a 17-12 first-quarter score.

Diaby continued Malta’s strong showing, opening the second quarter with a three of her own as Malta led by six, before Tuhina responded with a three of her own. 

Range was on the menu as Diaby and De Martino both hit threes, the latter beating the shot-clock as six minutes remained in the first half.

Tuhina was the biggest threat for Malta, keeping them at bay with another three but De Martino was accurate yet again from distance, Handreck making it a 9-point lead.

Kosovo came close to within four but it was Malta still ahead 34-30 by halftime.  

Kosovo hit first as the second half opened, bringing the game to within two points before Malta stretched the gap again with another three.

De Martino, in form from distance on the day, put Malta up by eight as they reached the 40-point mark with 6.24 to go. 

The last quarter was to be a fight to the death as both sides started 4 points apart. Kosovo brought it to within two but Malta stayed strong and led by 3 with 6 to go.

Offensive troubles restricted Malta from keeping up their margin as Kosovo reduced the score to just a point. 

The Kosovars took the lead but De Martino saved Malta from a late scare with two mins to go and Handreck’s three put Malta back in safe waters, up by six in the final minute and a half. 

They managed to see the game through to get past the first hurdle as the final buzzer blew for a Malta win.


Malta: S. Abela 4; S. De Martino 25; K. Galea 3; J. Grima 19; A. Van Vliet 3; N. Agius; Y. Bonett; C. Ciantar; D. Galea; N. Handreck 14; M. Riolo; J. Xerri.

Kosovo: S. Daci 18; B. Martinaj 3; A. Rrahmani 2; E. Shatri 2; A. Tuhina 17; D. Dekaj; D. Halitaj; F. Kelmendi; A. Muhadri 2; A. Perquku 9; M. Rushiti 0;

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