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Nine-point burst leads Starlites to beat Luxol and lift Women’s MBA Shield trophy

Starlites celebrate with the MBA Shield trophy. Photo: Wally Galea

Fusion win men’s Amateur title

Caffe Moak Luxol 40
Starlites FIJO 55
(9-16, 15-14, 13-19, 3-6)

A 9-0 streak, late in the third quarter, paved the way for Starlites FIJO’s success in the MBA Shield final on Sunday.

This rally helped the Naxxar side to open a 49-36 lead, placing them well in the driving seat since they only then needed six more points to reach the 55-point threshold, voted in favour by the clubs prior to the start of the season, needed to close the game in this competition.

These final points were netted through treys from the game’s top scorer Stephanie Demartino and then Mikela Riolo as the final was decided, amidst the joy of the Starlites’ supporters, in the 32nd minute of normal regulation time.

Starlites led throughout the game after opening an early 8-2 lead after less than three minutes of play.

Despite Caffe Moak Luxol’s efforts, the Naxxar side always managed to keep their opponents a slight hand away going in the half-time interval leading 30-24.

Demartino, who together with Riolo and Amelia Simmons, was on the court for all of the game’s minutes, inspired her team-mates as she was hot from long range, hitting seven treys from 13 attempts closing off with 29 points and 50 per cent shooting, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Riolo potted the game-closing trey whilst adding eight rebounds and two steals.

Simmons had three steals and four rebounds in a game where Starlites also won the boards game 32-29 with Christina Curmi adding also five boards. Michela Zammit Cordina topped the assist list for her team with four in the game.

Luxol showed more positive play for the first minutes after the interval and buckets from Gladiana Avila and Mandi Mercieca moved the Violets to 32-34 behind.

Mexican international Avila was her side’s top scorer and rebounder with 16 (45% accuracy) and eight respectively as well as three assists.

Yet she was forced to commit a higher number of turnovers than usual with Starlites benefitting from such actions at the other end.

Josephine Diaby shot at 37% for nine points yet probably much more was expected from her under the boards in this game.

Captian Mercieca was precise from the charity line, four from four, and added four rebounds and three steals whilst young Sarah Fenech Pace brought down six defensive boards.

Two back-to-back Demartino three-pointers, in the space of 24 seconds, gave new impetus to Starlites and they then closed off the third quarter with the influential 9-0 run.

Aware of the 55-point target lurking very close against them, Luxol looked quite a subdued lot at the start of the fourth quarter and Riolo’s long-ranger finally ended this final.

MBA president Paul Sultana presented the winning trophy to Starlites’ captain Demartino, the Naxxar side’s third success in this competition in the last four editions.

Luxol: C. Sollami 3, M. Mercieca 4, L. Fenech Pace 6, H. Galea, G. Avila 16, K. Portelli, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace 2, J. Diaby 9, J. Said, S. Sciberras, M. Marmara.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 2, M. Riolo 5, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 2, S. DeMartino 29, M. Fenech 2, A. Simmons 9, C. Cilia, L. DeMartino, S. Davies, C. Curmi 6.
Referees: G. Barbara, N. Azzopardi , F. Ciurariu.

Close victory for Fusion

Fusion Meridianbet 75
Mellieħa Libertas 73
(17-13, 20-21, 20-22, 18-17)

The Amateur Men MBA Shield final almost went right down to the wire as the 75-point mark was reached with 55 seconds to spare on the regulation time clock.

With the score tied at 73-a-piece, Fusion Meridianbet’s top performer, Nikola Bozovic, landed two shots from the charity line to end the game.

Bozovic had a double-double in this final with 32 points (58% shooting) and 16 rebounds.

Mellieħa were quite near to closing off the game when Shawn Pace (16 points and two steals) scored a trey, with 2:38 to go, to move them 73-70 ahead.

But Fusion kept their cool and Bogdan Mrkojevic (10 assists) landed a threeball 18 seconds before Bozovic closed the game.

For the winners, Viktor Capkanovski added eight assists and 11 points whilst at the other end Ferdinand Lisondra shot at 87% for 16 points, seven assists, and four steals. Eduard Valdespina was the side’s top scorer with 18 points (35% accuracy), nine rebounds, four assists, and five steals.

The game was particularly balanced and the 17 lead changes in the game clearly show this as both sides neutralised each other continuously. This category now awaits more similar hard-fought tussles in the finals of the remaining competitions.

Fusion: D. Peric 5, N. Pjanovic, S. Vincic, B. Mrkojevic 7, N. Bozovic 32, N. Tosic, N. Mihailovic 3, N. Trajkovic 8, J. Enriquez 4, L. Sobers, V. Capkanovski 11, J. Putarek 5.
Mellieħa: S. Pace 16, R. Rutkauskas 9, P. Marotta 5, F. Lisandro 16, C. Pereira, E. Valdespina 18, C. Briffa, D. Militello, K. Diediskis 2, M. Sampo, J. Janga 5, K. Micaller 2.
Referees: F. Ciurariu, N. Azzopardi.

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