Connect with us


Malta to have ‘a very strong team’ guarantees MBA president Sultana

Malta will be tipping off their GSSE commitments on Tuesday. Photo: FIBA

Gold will be on the agenda for Malta’s basketball teams in this year’s Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) as they aim to use home-court advantage to move past the likes of Montenegro, Cyprus, and Liechtenstein.

Having already hosted an international tournament at the Ta’ Qali pavilion last summer when Malta held the men’s FIBA Small Countries Championships, Malta Basketball Association (MBA) president Paul Sultana believes all of last year’s work was a build-up to this month’s Games – a competition that the association has been working to guarantee a very strong team.

“We wanted to host the FIBA tournament in Malta as preparation for the GSSE,” Sultana explained.

“It was just the men’s tournament back then, but we wanted to understand the organization, setup, how we’d use the gym, and how supporters would react. It was a good test for us and it was worth doing it, especially because when you look at our expenses it was important to see Malta play in front of its fans in its own country.”

Asked about the teams’ targets, Sultana emphasised it will be the top spot at the end of the tournament.

“Our target is Gold for both teams,” he said, “We’ll see what eventually happens, but this is what we are aiming and preparing for. 

Australia-based Nelson Kahler and Nicola Handreck, who both saw their national team debut coming at the GSSE, will be back, together with Jacob Formosa, Josh Tommasi, and Jessica Azzopardi. Italy-based Kurt Cassar, Tevin Falzon, and Danika Galea will also be making their way home to join the team, as are Sophie Abela and Kristy Galea who both played college ball in the US this past season. In addition are Starlites’ Amelia Simmons and neutralised players Eric Washington, and Amber Melgoza.

David Bugeja (left) drives towards the hoop. Photo: FIBA

Locally, players like Division One finals’ most valuable player (MVP) Alec Felice Pace, Nathan Xuereb, David Bugeja, and Kurt Xuereb will all be pushing to repeat impressive performances with the National team. Sultana believes they have all become vital parts of Malta’s team.

“They have grown to another level this season. They’ve all taken a well-deserved break after our season but they are edging to play again and do well – this is their first chance to play at the GSSE in Malta and it should be a great experience for them as players,” he explained.

Another focus besides the players and coaches Alan Walls (men) and Angela Adamoli (women) will be the Maltese support- a crucial element in Malta’s FIBA tournament last year. 

“I’m expecting a lot of people there – better than last summer – as there are going to be higher levels,” Sultana said.

‘More importance to 3X3’

While the main basketball event will certainly be the full-sized basketball games, 3×3 will be making its way to the GSSE for the first time in these Games. 

Last summer, Malta took part in the FIBA 3×3 qualifiers in the women’s game, a few days before the Small Countries Championship in Cyprus. This time around, there will be a men’s team as well with squads soon to be confirmed, emphasis being given to younger players, particularly in the women’s game as last year’s participants will all be part of the full-sized game happening simultaneously.

Asked about what it means to be the first association to host the small-sided game at its GSSE, Sultana believes their target is to promote it among the local community.

“We are not yet very strong, but this is the first time they’ve been introduced in the Games – it’s a new experience,” Malta’s 2023 GSSE Chief de Mission said.

“Like FIBA, we are trying to launch and give importance to 3×3. It’s not yet as popular in Malta and we wanted to add it so that we can increase participation of Maltese players. Obviously, everyone wants to win but our target is mostly to promote it as much as we can.” 

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Basketball