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Watch: Malta hold off San Marino in FIBA U-16 European Championship Classification Group

Malta's Kai Fabri (centre) rises for the acrobatic layup against San Marino. Photo: FIBA

Fourth quarter surge gives Malta second win of the tournament  

MALTA              59

SAN MARINO 51

(15-15, 15-17, 14-15, 15-7)

Malta beat San Marino 59-51 on Tuesday to secure their first win in the fifth-ninth place Classification Group at the FIBA Under-16 European Championships Division C in Kosovo.

It was a game that saw both sides tussle for the win, with no clear winner throughout, in fact, the encounter had no less than seven lead changes.

San Marino led the boards by three but struggled through 26 turnovers and unnecessary fouls which helped Malta push further.

Sebastian Pace led the game in scoring on Tuesday as he put up 20 points in an inspired performance in which he looked confident to lead Malta’s attacks, also contributing five rebounds and four assists in 38.40 minutes on court. Kyle Deguara was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points, five rebounds, and four steals. Julien Dimech went close with nine points but grabbed an impressive 15 rebounds.

For San Marino, Thomas Gasperoni led with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, together with five assists. Mattia Nanni followed with 13 points and six rebounds.

The offensive nature of the game became clear at the start when both sides had 10-0 runs in the first quarter but they finished at par at 15-15 as the first 10 minutes drew to a close.

Malta took the lead immediately as the game restarted but it was a tit-for-tat affair and San Marino switched leads with a three-pointer right before the break.

After the change of ends, San Marino continued right where they left off, opening the gap to eight points by half of the third quarter. However, Malta dug deep to bring the game to within two points with the final minute remaining in the third quarter; with seconds to go, the sides were level yet again.

The fourth quarter was as close as ever but when it mattered most, Malta regained the lead and made it a five-point advantage ahead of the final minute of regulation time, one in which Malta were in the bonus. In fact, the final seconds of the game were an onslaught by San Marino, but the Malta boys packed the interior contesting no less than five attempts from their opponents and forcing a shot clock violation before heading out for a final timeout. To make matters worse for San Marino, from the ensuing start, Pace went straight to the line for a technical freethrow and hit a couple more to send the game home after a foul.

Malta plays Armenia next in the group on Wednesday (tip-off: 12.30pm).

MALTA

M. Buttigieg de Piro 8, K. Deguara 11, J. Dimech 9, K. Fabri 3, S. Pace 20, L. Attard 2, K. Fabri 2, K. Galea, M. Micallef 2, S. Ransley, M. Rieger, M. Sammut 2.

SAN MARINO

R. Anelli, T. Gasperoni 15, M. Nanni 13, M. Pagliarani 6, F. San Martini 7, T. Bacciocchi, G. Bollini, Mario Caccarini, S. Cecchetti, F. Mazzucco 2, R. Raschi, M. Sartini 8.

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