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Watch: Adamoli confident in ‘hardworking’ team ahead of GSSE opening

Malta women's coach Angela Adamoli. Photo: FIBA

The 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) open proceedings on Monday to end the wait for athletes and sports fans alike after the previous edition was cancelled due to COVID-19. As for Malta’s women’s basketball team, the side takes the court a day later on Tuesday and coach Angela Adamoli believes her players are raring to start.

“Every team I’ve had, I’ve always been very proud of them but after 10 years in Malta, this year I have a really good team,” Adamoli told the Times of Malta.

“All the girls this year have worked hard during the winter with their clubs and by themselves. They’ve worked hard also physically with coaches Tina de Martino and Roderick Vella during this adventure and these three weeks with me and Sam Brincat, they’ve worked really hard and now we’re ready to start our competition.”

Malta women’s coach Angela Adamoli speaks to the Times of Malta ahead of GSSE 2023. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Malta returns to play on home court this year, against Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Montenegro. The Cypriots will be going from host to guest after last year’s FIBA Small Countries Championship in Nicosia. They had taken Gold with Malta taking Bronze and Adamoli believes such opponents will look towards making it harder for the home team.

“I expect that they’ll arrive here ready to make our lives really tough because we are the host team,” the Malta coach said.

“But I think that we can compete with every team. We know it’s hard because the other teams Cyprus, Luxembourg and Montenegro play in division B and A, so they try to play and have a lot of possibilities to play friendlies and compete with other teams. It will be tough but even for them, it won’t be easy.

“When I start every competition, I want to win so, the first goal is to win and beat all the teams. Then the court will dictate if the other team is stronger than us. We are on the court to give everything and try to arrive at the best result.”

Confident youth

Adamoli is no stranger to the Maltese national teams, having been in charge of Malta’s women’s team since 2012. Celebrating her 11th year in the role, the Italian believes there has been significant change in the attitude of Maltese players on the court and that nowadays they appear more confident, particularly the younger players.

Young players like Danika Galea and Ylenia Bonett have both had their debut season overseas in with Elite Basket Roma in Italy and Snaefell Karfa in Iceland respectively, while Sophie Abela and Kristy Galea played college ball in the US. Adamoli believes these experiences have shaped their game and as a result, this helps them show up with more experienced players like Josephine Diaby, Stephanie de Martino and Asleigh Van Vliet, who have been household names in women’s basketball in Malta for a number of years.

“Young players fitting in so well was the thing that I wasn’t surprised about. I was happy to see that we have a really perfect mix between young and experienced players, and I see that the difference between other years is that the young are confident,” Adamoli said.

“This is a really important thing and I’m sure it comes from the experience they had in the winter.

“Usually the young are shy, don’t take shots, and are more scared. I found that this year, all 12 girls and the others in the initial 18 that we started with have been focused so there was always space to take shots and make decisions to be part of the team in an active way.”

‘3×3 a space to show skill’

While the main focus will be the 5×5 game, the newly introduced 3×3 event at this year’s GSSE is set to become a springboard both for the sport itself as well as the level of players there should be taking part.

Assisting the 3×3 players, Adamoli – who has been involved in the small-sided game for many years as well – believes Malta’s team will get valuable experience and can ‘show how good they are’.

“(The 3×3 players) played with the 5×5 team as well in the beginning. It helped them because the rhythm has been really high, so they played against strong players,” she said.

“The play was always at the highest level, so it helps. After that, they shifted to the smaller court eventually. These are players who can find their space here and can show how good they are. This is not a team of secondary players; this is a different sport where every player is the first player.  I think it’s important for their character and basketball skill.”

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