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Starlites head to Playoff finals after Depiro semi-final sweep

Starlites FIJO's Amelia Simmons rises above the contest from ARMS Depiro's Casey Samuels under the hoop. Photo: Wally Galea

Semi-Finals Play-Off Series Game 2

ARMS Depiro   57

Starlites FIJO   68

(13-14, 14-27, 10-14, 20-13)

A second-quarter superior display paved the way for Starlites FIJO’s second win in this semifinal series against ARMS Depiro, a victory that closed the same series at 2-0 and led to Starlites’ progression to the finals series where they will face Regular League winners Caffe Moak Luxol on a best-of-five format.

The game set off on an even pace even though the Naxxar side opened a 12-5 lead midway in the first ten minutes of effective play.

Their best scorer Amelia Simmons (45% shooting and team-high seven steals on a double-double day with 29 points and 13 rebounds) got the game’s first hoop late in the first minute and despite Depiro replying through a trey and basket from Julia Borg, Starlites had an 8-0 run starting with a Stephanie Demartino mid-ranger and back-to-back treys from Mikela Riolo (40% from long range, three steals, and a team-high seven assists, followed by four by Michela Zammit Cordina.

Points off Claire Ciantar (double-double with 14 points and 10 boards and two assists) and Leanne Duncan, apart from another Borg hoop (two of two trey attempts), helped Depiro to close the gap to a solitary point, 13-14, at the end of the first quarter.

Depiro’s Australian import Casey Samuels, who had another double-double with 11 rebounds added to her 22 points but at 29% as well as three steals and a team-shared high of four assists with Duncan and Nicole Agius, notched her first buckets early in the second quarter for 18-20 but in next seven minutes, it was Starlites who made an influential move to the victory with a 20-3 run to open a substantial 40-21 lead.

At this juncture, Simmons and Demartino (43% shooting for 23 points and eight rebounds, two assists) made all the offensive damage to their opponents as they shared all these 20 points apart from a Maria Bonett lay-up.

Depiro’s reaction after the interval did not materialise as Starlites, who out-rebounded their opponents 56-39 and had Christina Curmi with a team-high 15 boards, kept the upper hand and even managed to increase the lead marginally to a maximum 55-33 score after a Demartino three-pointer.

The outcome of the game and series was no longer in doubt even if Depiro, who also had to do without the injured Julia Xerri, managed to somewhat reduce the deficit in the last quarter with Samuels ending with five treys with 35 % from the long distance.

Starlites now prepare for their final series showdown with reigning champions Luxol.

Depiro: N. Agius 6, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 4, N. Agius, C. Ciantar 14, C. Samuels 22, J. Borg 10, M. Micallef, N. Borg 1, C. Fenech, L. Camilleri
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 4, M. Riolo 7, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 3, S. DeMartino 23, M. Fenech 2, A. Simmons 29, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, S. Davies, C. Curmi
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, N. Azzopardi, F. Fabok

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