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Maltese Basketball in mourning as legendary John Tabone dies aged 71

The Malta Basketball fraternity was hit by the terrible news that former coach John Tabone passed away on Monday aged 71.

Tabone was one of the legends of Maltese basketball after enjoying a highly-successful career both as a player and a coach that stretched for over five decades.

The name of John Tabone will remain attached to Luxol Basketball Club as he was not only influential in the foundation of this club but also enjoyed a stellar spell at the club, winning several titles both as a player and as a coach.

As coach of Luxol BC, Tabone managed to win five consecutive honours between 2007 and 2009, a feat which he described as ‘his proudest moment’.

Tabone was also the Malta coach that in 1985 steered the men’s national team to a bronze medal at the Games of the Small States in Europe – the country’s first medal at the Games – and repeating the feat two years later.

Earlier this month, John Tabone was recognised for his achievements when he was inducted into the Maltese Olympic Committee Hall of Fame.

“We are profoundly saddened by the news that John Tabone has passed away, aged 71,” the Malta Basketball Association said in a statement.

“John is a true giant of Maltese basketball, having enjoyed a successful career as a player and a coach for over five decades – an incredible achievement. He is synonymous with Luxol, the club he helped to found and with whom he won several titles both as a player and a coach, including five consecutive honours between 2007 and 2009 – his proudest coaching moment in John’s own words.

“John, who also coached the national team in the eighties, was recently inducted into the Maltese Olympic Committee Hall of Fame.

“The Malta Basketball Association conveys its profound condolences to John Tabone’s family and friends during this difficult time. Rest in peace John – you will never be forgotten!”

Tributes started to flow following the news of Tabone’s passing, with Malta Basketball Association president Paul Sultana the first to send a fitting tribute.

“For over 40 years, we battled on court,” Sultana wrote.

“A very tough and competitive opponent but we both shared the same aim and the respect was mutual. You were a true fighter, committed, determined, disciplined and loyal, driven by your love for basketball.

“Farewell John – you will be terribly missed.”

Luxol Basketball Club also paid an emotional tribute to Tabone, highlighting is immense contribution to the club.

“Luxol Basketball club is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our founding members, player and coach John Tabone,” Luxol BC said in a statement.

“John founded Luxol Basketball Club in 1968 together with Joseph Falzon (il-Fus). He played ten years for Luxol winning 4 league titles and 3 knock outs. He then took over as player coach for 3 seasons and subsequently was the head coach of our senior men’s team for 38 years.

“During this period he coached a record of a 1,000 competitive games at senior level. As a coach he won 9 league titles, 11 knock outs, 7 MBA shield, 8 Super Cups and 3 Louis Borg Cups. John described his highest achievement to be the winning of the quintuple crown in seasons 2007/2008 and 2008/2009.

“John was also a former national team coach winning two bronze medals at the Small Nations Games in 1985 and 1987.

“Following ‘retirement’ John was still actively coaching in our nursery up to the start of this season and recently included in the Malta Olympic Commitee Hall of Fame.

“John was a true gentleman. Besides all these successes, he will always be remembered for his mentorship and the impact on the lives of many basketball players.

“Luxol Basketball will always be John Tabone and John Tabone will always be Luxol Basketball.”

Basketball referee Bernard Vassallo heaped praise on the impact John Tabone left on the game in Malta.

“There is nothing beyond destiny and we cannot control fate…,” Vassallo said.

“As of this evening, you are not here with us but we will always remember you as a warrior, a fighter and a winner – a coaching legend for the local game!!

“Am proud and honoured to have shared so many games and hours on the court, since 1983, as a player, as a referee and as a friend with you.

“We agreed and also disagreed but your full respect was always present each day. A true sporting gentleman.”

Apart from his involvement in basketball, John Tabone also made a name for himself in waterpolo, where he played a starring role as a player and coach for Sliema Aquatic Club.

“The club is deeply saddened with the news of the passing away of former player and coach, John Tabone. John was part of a Golden Era that delivered 8 league titles in 10 years during the 1970s,” Sliema ASC said in a statement.

“Sincere condolences to his family during this difficult time.”


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