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Luxol beat Depiro to land Louis Borg Cup

Luxol players celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Wally Galea

Caffe Moak Luxol 131
ARMS Depiro 88

Caffe Moak Luxol comfortably won their second honour of the season when they managed to lift the Louis Borg Cup to add to their Super Cup success.

This was Luxol’s fourth triumph in this competition’s history with their last success being back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016.

With a superior performance and better shooting in the latter part of the first game in the final series against ARMS Depiro, the Violets took a commanding 20-point lead after the first game and then managed to extend it even further with a notable streak in the second quarter of the second game.

Depiro had a very sprightly start to the final series when they quickly raced to a 9-0 lead after four minutes of play and forcing Luxol to request an early time-out.

Skipper Claire Ciantar (37% shooting, eight rebounds) set the Mtarfa side going with a jumper followed by a brace of Casey Samuels (14 points, seven rebounds, five steals) hoops from inside the paint and a Julia Xerri (two assists, five rebounds) lay-up.

Luxol’s first bucket was a Kayleigh Portelli trey in the sixth minute yet Depiro still maintained an eight-point, lead, 13-5, for some more minutes after further baskets from Samuels and Nicole Agius (14 points, six boards).

A late first quarter 7-0 Luxol run brought the latter back into the game with Mexican guard and the game’s top scorer Gladiana Avila (25 pts, 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals) netting her first hoops together with veteran Mandy Mercieca who also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds added to five assists and four steals.

The first rubber closed with a Ciantar buzzer-beater which helped Depiro to a marginal 15-12 lead after ten minutes.

The game remained balanced in the second quarter. Luxol came at par with the quarter’s first score as Portelli, with another trey, made it 15-15.

But Depiro managed to reopen a six-point buffer, 23-17 three minutes later only for Luxol to quickly tie the game again.

With the two sides replying to each other, Depiro kept the upper hand, albeit marginally until the last seconds of the first half when an Avila lay-up off a turnover helped Luxol to a very slender 30-29 lead at the interval.

The game started changing face in the latter part of the third quarter as Luxol netted a six-point rally, courtesy of Avila and Cristina Sollami.

With Depiro failing to maintain their offensive consistency, the Violets started distancing themselves and closed the third rubber leading 45-36.

The match, and practically the whole series, swayed completely in Luxol’s favour in the last quarter when Luxol outscored their opponents 22-7 and managed to close the game with a 24-point lead going into game two just two days later.

Here, Luxol notched two respective double-digit 11-0 runs, with a number of hoops also from the sisters Lisa and Sarah Fenech Pace.

Buoyed by this positive margin, Luxol had the psychological edge in the second game which set off with three hoops from centre Josephine Diaby (12 pts, five rebounds), who had a quiet game two days earlier.

Depiro did manage to share the spoils in the first rubber as treys from Agius and Samuels (10 rebounds, five assists, three steals) helped them to a tied 10-10 game only for late free throws from Avila and Lisa Fenech Pace (three of three from long range in the game) to give Luxol a marginal 15-12 lead at the quarter’s buzzer.

This encounter was determined at the start of the second rubber when Luxol dominated the play and registered a series high 17 point streak with Avila (22 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) continuing to land hoops assisted by Sarah Fenech Pace (14 rebounds, 2 assists) as well as a hoop from Michelle Camilleri.

With almost a 20-point margin between the two sides added to the first game’s outcome, the series was done and dusted already at this stage.

Both coaches, Luxol’s Coppa and Depiro’s Dedelioglu also took the opportunity to rotate all the available players.

The last two quarters had Luxol continuing to extend their lead in the third rubber, managing also a game-high 32-point lead, at 54-22 after a late Lisa Fenech Pace three ball, and then Depiro neutralizing a bit the final deficit in the last ten minutes as they outscored a very young Luxol five on the court, 23-10, with Xerri (seven rebounds, two assists) notching a series of hoops and Julianne Magri landing two of six three-point attempts.

At the end of the series, Caffe Moak Luxol were presented with the winning medals by Mark Borg, son of the late Louis Borg, accompanied by the MBA president Paul Sultana.

The winning trophy was then presented, amidst the celebrations of the Luxol squad and supporters on the stands, to Michelle Camilleri on behalf of her teammates.

Both sides now have different outlooks for the rest of the season.

Depiro need to prepare for their semifinal series clash with Starlites whilst Luxol, who won the regular season, head directly through to the Finals Series and await the winner between Depiro and Starlites.

At the same time, Luxol will surely set their eyes on the Knock-Out Final next month when they will face Hibernians, with the latter fully aware that this final is their last and only chance to get something out of the season.

Caffe Moak Luxol 67
ARMS Depiro 43
(12-15, 18-14, 15-7, 22-7)

Luxol: C. Sollami 7, M. Mercieca 13, L. Fenech Pace 5, H. Galea, G. Avila 25, K. Portelli 6, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace 6, J. Diaby 4, J. Said, S. Sciberras 1, M. Marmara.
Depiro: N. Agius 14, J. Xerri 6, L. Duncan, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 6, C. Samuels 14, M. Micallef, N. Borg, L. Camilleri 3, J. Magri, E. Cassar.
Referees: G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic, N. Azzopardi.

ARMS Depiro 45
Caffe Moak Luxol 64

(12-15, 3-19, 7-20, 23-10)

Depiro: N. Agius 8, J. Xerri 8, L. Duncan, No. Agius 2, C. Ciantar 4, C. Samuels 9, J. Borg 1, M. Micallef 2, N. Borg 2, L. Camilleri, J. Magri 8, E. Cassar 2.
Luxol: C. Sollami, M. Mercieca, L. Fenech Pace 12, H. Galea, G. Avila 22, K. Portelli, M. Camilleri 2, S. Fenech Pace 9, J. Diaby 12, J. Said, S. Sciberras 5, M. Marmara 2.
Referees: I. Simic, N. Azzopardi, G. Barbara.

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