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Watch: Malta beat Andorra in FIBA women’s U-18 European Championship opener

Malta beat Andorra in their opening fixture of the FIBA women's Under-18 European Championships. Photo: FIBA

Galea shines to top points standings

ANDORRA       69

MALTA              86

(20-26, 17-13, 20-23, 12-24)

Malta won their first game at the FIBA women’s Under-18 European Championships in Durres, Albania on Wednesday as they beat Andorra 86-69.

It was an impressive performance for Malta’s women as they maintained their composure amid the Andorra pressure and motivated by a standout performance by Danika Galea, Giovanni Gebbia’s clan led the game throughout, opening double-digit gaps on numerous occasions. While Andorra managed to come back and threaten the status quo, Malta were determined to take the win.

Galea, who has had a positive season in Rome playing for Elite Basket Roma, emulated this on the court on Tuesday with a phenomenal 41 points, making it a double-double with 20 rebounds and four blocks. Anna Fenech Pace was the other double-digit scorer, putting up 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Closest to Galea on the boards was Sara Fenech Pace who, coming off the back of a fourth-place finish with Under-16s, grabbed 16 rebounds on the day.

At the other end, Ada Domene and Clara Davasse led Andorra’s scoring with 17 points each, the latter also grabbing six rebounds. Paula Collado added a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Laura Limones scored 10 points to round up the double digits.

Malta started brightly and strong in their approach as they surged into the lead and put up 26 points to end the first quarter on top as Andorra followed six points behind them.

Both sides were neck and neck, and this spilled over to the second quarter as well with the two sets of players answering to every offensive play. Malta were more accurate in their shooting and they maintained their lead into the halftime break with a close two-point margin.

The change of ends proved beneficial for Malta as they pushed their lead up to seven points with five minutes to go in the third quarter. One could see an energetic Malta side on court whose players constantly drove into the Andorran paint while being attentive high up the court to steal the ball away on defence.

With a 1.36 to go the gap was up to 11 with Andorra bringing it back down to single digits on the next play.

The fourth quarter was as close as ever with the sides within four of each other at the start, but Malta banked on Galea whose size mismatch and overseas experience were key to Malta’s lead. In fact, the team regained a double-digit advantage with seven minutes to go in the final rubber.

The gap grew to 15 points in the next three minutes as Malta showed no sign of stopping. At the other end, freethrows became Andorra’s go-to offensive strategy with both teams in the bonus for foul trouble.

The Malta players kept pushing as their lead became 17 and they held on for the final seconds to secure their first win in the tournament after a 24-point fourth quarter.

Malta play Cyprus next on Thursday (tip-off: 2pm).

ANDORRA

N. Crespo 5, C. Davasse 17, L. Fradet 5, L. Limones 10, E. Marquet 1, L. Burgos, P. Collado, Q. Corominas, A. Domene 17, E. Garcia 2, L. Limones, S. Mejia.

MALTA

L. Fenech Pace 7, M. Fenech 6, S. Fenech Pace 4, D. Galea 41, S. Sciberras 6, E. Abela, A. Fenech Pace 12, J. Magri 2, M. Marmara, P. Riolo, J. Said, A. Saliba 8.

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