Malta fell to Luxembourg twice on Day Three of the Games of the Small States of Europe as both the men and women suffered close defeats.
The women’s team, who played first fell to a 64-55 loss despite a valiant showing. Similarly, the Malta men lost 78-75 in the later game with the death blow coming late in the fourth quarter.
(24-30, 23-14, 13-14, 18-17)
In the men’s game, Josh Tomasi led the Malta scoring just like the night before, this time putting up 19 points and four rebounds. Nelson Kahler added 14 together with eight rebounds and two assists, as Kurt Cassar rounded the double-digit scoring with 11, four rebounds and two assists.
After a memorable victory against Montenegro on Wednesday, things looked heading in the same direction when just five seconds into the game, Tevin Falzon hit a corner three with Tomasi dunking, and Kahler adding another bucket before the first minute was even over.
Malta’s players looked like they were finally enjoying themselves out on the court together, no longer seeming a disjointed set of gifted players but a team.
A close first quarter came to an end with Malta up by six at the end as Aaron Falzon, who finished with five points before fouling out, netted a corner three at the buzzer.
Second chance points were Luxembourg’s modus operandi in the second quarter and this seemed to work in their favour as they levelled proceedings at 33-33. They took the lead with a three-ball and proceeded to open a six-point lead.
But with two minutes to go a three-ball from Tevin Falzon, a free throw from Kahler, and a midrange jumper from Eric Washington brought things level yet again. Luxembourg pushed forward again with Washington hitting late to bring the game to within three at the halftime break.
In the third quarter, Malta kept up their momentum and the lead changed for the third time of the game.
It was then neck and neck in the fourth quarter as Malta lead with close margins. However, Luxembourg levelled with 1.20 to go and they kept a two-point lead until the end.
LUXEMBOURG WOMEN 64
MALTA WOMEN 55
Earlier, Malta’s women suffered their second loss in two days after having won their first game in the Games.
Against Montenegro on Wednesday, the Maltese were far from their best and this showed in the final score. On Thursday Angela Adamoli’s side was close in stature but struggled to keep up as Luxembourg led throughout.
Once again, Amber Melgoza led Malta’s scoring with 13 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists, as Stephanie De Martino scored another 10 and four rebounds as the second double-digit scorer on the team. Ashleigh Van Vliet scored seven but grabbed 12 boards in a more defensive contribution to the game.
Luxembourg’s Amanda Cahill looked the danger in the opening stages when she scored eight of her 20 as her team’s leading scorer. De Martino hit three long-rangers in between makes from Melgoza, Josephine Diaby and Sophie Abela as Danika Galea brought the game to within three at the first buzzer.
Ehis Etute, who finished with 10 points, took over the second quarter for Luxembourg but the game saw six lead changes before the halftime break.
De Martino and Diaby pushed for Malta in the third quarter but Luxembourg looked stronger as they held onto a single-digit lead until the end, finishing the game with a nine-point gap.
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