The first round of the BOV Men League came to an end after game day 5.
Starlites kept the top spot in the standings but they had to work hard to overcome the very stiff resistance by Hibs in a high-scoring game.
Depiro registered their second win in five games after beating Gżira Athleta whilst Mellieħa beat Luxol with a late fourth-quarter rally after a balanced game earlier in the match.
Starlites Fijo 106
(32-30, 20-20, 29-27, 25-22)
Starlites FIJO and Hibernians offered a thrilling, high-scoring encounter with both sides having quite a field day offensively.
The game saw a number of lead changes as each side passed through one good patch to another.
The first quarter started showing that it was going to be a high-scoring match as the score was 32-30 after merely ten minutes of play.
Jordan Notch set up Starlites’ scoring machine but a Luke Farrugia trey and the first buckets from Hibs’ two main point getters, Ivan Demcesen and Justin Bogle led to the first lead change, albeit very momentarily, in the game.
Three balls from Notch, Darius George and Matthew Scerri helped Starlites to a 12-3 run as they again jumped ahead.
However, with Demcesen very active under the boards, added with a couple of Matthew Attard and Anton Axiaq hoops, Hibs managed to recover the deficit for a tight two-point game at the end of the first quarter.
Ten minutes later, at the half-time interval, it was still a regular hoop that separated the two sides at 52-50 as 40 points were shared equally in the second rubber.
It was practically a tit-for-tat affair all through this quarter.
Both teams enjoyed marginal leads with Hibs’ guard Paul Attard giving the Paolites a late lead with a trey only for Starlites to just nose 52-50 ahead before the final quarter buzzer with four points off bench player Ryan Carabott.
When play restarted, Starlites raced to a quick 64-58 lead.
But here Hibs hit back strongly with nine consecutive points to regain the upper edge for a short while.
Three pointers from George and Matthew Attard as well as late third quarter points from Alec Felice Pace helped Starlites to regain the lead and go into the last quarter with a four point margin, 81-77.
The Naxxar side seemed to be nailing the win when they had a better start in the final rubber as they opened a 90-83 lead.
But Bogle was Hihs’ hero in the next stretch as he netted eight points without reply to pip Hibs again ahead, 91-90.
It was now anybody’s match going to 97-96 for Hibs with time now running out.
Two treys from Scerri and Attard respectively gave a huge boost to Starlites as not only did they surpass the century but now put Hibs under pressure with the final buzzer so close.
Demcesen did pull a hoop back at the other end but Starlites ascertained their unbeaten run with late points from their top scorers, Notch and George.
Starlites: A. Felice Pace 10, M. Attard 15, I. Felice Pace 3, M. Fabri, L. Riolo, M. Scerri 12, R. Carabott 4, L. Farrugia 4, N. Sultana, D. George 30, J. Notch 28.
Hibs: N. Cassar, P. Attard 3, G. Cassar, L. Farrugia 5, L. Borg, A. Axiaq 9, M. Fall, M. Attard 11, J. Bogle 31, I. Demcesen 37, P. Shoults 3.
Referees: D. Torok, N. Azzopardi, F. Ciurariu.
BUPA Luxol 65
Mellieħa Libertas 79
(19-24, 18-19, 20-16, 8-20)
Mellieħa Libertas and BUPA Luxol shared the spoils, practically at par, for three quarters of the way.
But then Luxol could not maintain the pace in the final quarter as the northerners closed off the game with a 12-0 streak.
David Bugeja and Robert Bonnici set off Mellieħa for an early 7-0 score. But Luxol were back in the game as Tayler Mattos and Trevian Bell helped them to close the gap to 10-11.
Libertas nosed slightly ahead again as Connor Zinaich started finding his mark assisted by a trey from Nikola Jovanic.
Luxol were again quick to reply and then even managed to bring the game at par, 28-28, very early in the second quarter.
An 8-3 run, with Zinaich very well active under the Luxol boards, again pipped Mellieħa in front as they then moved to a 43-37 half-time lead.
Two streaks of six and sevenpoints after the break helped Luxol to be the better side in the third quarter.
Three balls from Mattos and Jean Paul Schembri were beneficial for the Violets as they came to within a point from their opponents, 48-49, midway in the quarter.
Although Mellieħa reacted with a good moment and an 8-2 run, Luxol were not to be outdone and they showed character as they again clawed back and brought the game at par, 57-a-piece through Mattos and a Nikola Vasovic long-ranger.
It was still close early in the last quarter at 67-63 for the winners.
But here Mellieħa hit their opponents with 12 straight points through Zinaich, Bugeja and Jandric to open a late double-digit lead which could not be neutralised at the other end as the time was practically over.
Luxol: J. Cefai, N. Vasovic 5, M. Sciberras 2, T. Bell 27, N. Engelbert, JP Schembri 3, A. Trapani, L. Trapani, V. Englin, T. Mattos 23, M. Matijevic 3, S. Cappello 2.
MellieĦa: S. Zammit, M. Falzon, D. Bugeja 17, R. Bonnici 4, V. Jandric 10, I. Bonett 3, N. Bukva 4, N. Jovanovic 5, C. Zinaich 36, M. Formosa.
Referees: B. Vassallo, I. Ciurariu, J. Londono.
Gżira Athleta 68
(23-8, 27-23, 13-20, 22-17)
A strong offensive stretch in the latter part of the first quarter paved the way for Depiro’s second league win.
Both sides shared the play in the first minutes of the game as Depiro set off with the first five points after a Cameron Cornelius trey and a Kameron Rooks close range hoop.
These two import players ended sharing a considerable 58-point tally from the Mtarfa’s side total of 85 on the day.
Gżira Athleta were, however, quick to react in the early stages with a brace of Roland Griffin baskets and two Frnacesco
Mifsud Bonnici shots from the charity line followed by a Nathan Xuereb bucket for a tight 9-8 scoreline.
Here, Depiro were the only side to net points till the end of the first quarter as they raced to a 23-8 lead after ten minutes of effective play.
Cornelius and Rooks were assisted by points off the young locals Sean Galea and Miguel Brincat.
Griffin had two three-balls at the start of the second quarter.
But Athleta’s efforts were again thwarted as Depiro did not relinquish their hold on the game and an Andrew Aquilina long-ranger had them 32-14 in the lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Athleta, now fielding only one import player after opting to part ways with Jalen King along the week, tried their utmost to recover the lost ground and managed to register a 12-3 run to halve the deficit to 26-35.
But two very late first-half treys from Aquilina and Nicholas Grech were instrumental to help Depiro to a comfortable 50-31 half-time lead.
Athleta were the sprightlier lot after the break as they managed to quickly bring down the gap to ten points, 44-54, with Luca Stefanovic and Xuereb adding to Griffin’s efforts.
The Cornelius/Rooks tandem again managed to break Depiro’s mini-drought and then Athleta also lost their play caller Joe Galea after he received the second technical foul.
Early fourth-quarter treys again distanced Depiro to an over 20 points positive margin and the last minutes of the game were merely a formality with Athleta managing to reduce a bit the ending margin.
Depiro: J. Flagel, S. Galea 10, D. Camilleri, A. Aquilina 6, N. Grech 5, S. Kenely, K. Rooks 26, M. Brincat 6, M. Mallia, C. Cornelius 32, J. Micallef, M. Debattista.
Athleta: F. Mifsud Bonnici 8, N. Buhagiar, L. Stefanovic 8, J. Ellul Dowling, N. Xuereb 11, R. Griffin 32, I. Xuereb 4, S. Vincic 3, R. Abela 2.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic, J. Londono.
Starlites Fijo 10, Mellieha Libertas 9, Gzira Athleta 7, BUPA Luxol 6, Depiro(-3) 4, Hibs(-3) 3.
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