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Watch: Malta suffer tough group finale against Cyprus at FIBA U-18 European Championships

Malta's Connor James attempts a layup against Cyprus. Photo: FIBA

To play in the 5-9th place classification group



(9-23, 13-16, 8-31, 9-19)

Malta suffered an agonising finale to their Group A commitments at the FIBA Under-18 European Championships in Azerbaijan on Thursday when they fell to an 89-39 defeat against group leaders Cyprus.

Even before the game’s tip-off, it was an apparent mismatch with Cyprus having won every game in the group so far, while Malta were yet to win a game. The Cypriots finish the group unbeaten and head to the semifinals, while Malta, who ended without a win, head to the fifth-ninth place classification group to face Andorra on Friday (tip-off:2.30pm).

Despite Malta’s efforts, the gulf in class and size among their squad’s players between the two sides was evident through the shooting percentage as Malta made just nine of their 44 shots (20%) as a troubling run of low scoring continued as the team struggled to overcome the Cypriot players. They was made to pay with a full-time 50-point margin.

Turnovers were another issue for the Maltese against Cyprus as they turned the ball over 30 times, 14 of which came due to Cypriot steals. The latter made 37 points from these turnovers and led by a game-high 52 points at one point. 

For the third game running, Adam Azzopardi led Malta’s scoring with 15 points and four rebounds. 

Maximos Koutouris was Cyprus’ top scorer with 14 points and eight rebounds. Georgios Armakolas followed with 13, as Christoforos Malathoura added 12 and eight rebounds.

Cyprus took 39 seconds to open proceedings when after two missed attempts and a Connor James shot in between, Maximos Koutouris made two shots from the freethrow line to put his side ahead – a lead that would last them until the end of the game. 

The Cypriots continued to build their lead, going on a 21-2 run before Matthew Sciberras stopped this with a three-pointer 3.22 before the first buzzer.

The second quarter was a slight relief as Malta put up 13 points, which was to be their best scoring record for the game.

However, in the second half, Cyprus locked down further, restricting Malta to just 17 points in the entire half while putting up 50 points to condemn Malta to their third consecutive defeat. 


S.Pace 4, J. Ellul Dowling, M. Sciberras 5, A. Azzopardi 15, C. James 5, I. Xuereb 2, A. Trapani 6, I. Azzopardi, S. Kenely, A. Sultana 2, M. Buttigieg de Piro.


C. Notaridis 7, A. Matsis 6, P. Chrostodoulides 9, M. Christofides 7, G. Armakolas 13, F. Vyronos 2, D. Neofytou 4, M. Koutouris 14, C. Malathoura 12, A. Neofytou, S. Tigkas 7, P. Tsouloupas 8.

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