Gebbia’s clan beats Albania in final
(10-9, 10-10, 16-18, 20-10)
Malta had cause to celebrate as the Under-18 women’s team won gold at this year’s FIBA European Championships in Albania on Sunday.
It was a tense finale to an outstanding performance throughout the tournament for Malta’s women who, under coach Giovanni Gebbia, blasted through their opposition on their way to the top spot.
Accuracy was an issue throughout the game for both sides as the teams’ field goal percentages were less than 40%, leading to a low scoring final. However, its excitement came from the 13 lead changes that took place throughout the game.
Similarly to the rest of the tournament, Danika Galea and Anna Fenech Pace were Malta’s leaders in scoring on Sunday. Most Valuable Player Award winner Galea, who was an MVP-favourite from the start of the competition, led with 18 points and 10 rebounds to finish the tournament with a double-double in each game. Fenech Pace followed with 12 points, six assists, and four rebounds. Sarah Fenech Pace completed the double-digit scorers for Malta with 11 points and four rebounds.
Albania’s Brikena Mucenji was her team’s top scorer with 17 points. Anisa Bokrina was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points.
Malta had a bright start to proceedings, taking a close lead by half of the first quarter gone. Albania turned this around to go ahead by just a point with seconds to go but a Galea layup gave Malta the advantage right before the first buzzer.
Albania set themselves ahead immediately in the second quarter. Still, the game fell into a slight lull with Andie Saliba bringing the game level for a few seconds before Albania completed their next two possessions to go on a 4-0 run. Galea was on hand to stop this with three minutes to go in the first half as Albania led by three points. The deficit fell to just one with an Anna Fenech Pace shot. With 28 seconds to go, Malta were ahead again to win their second quarter of the game.
The third quarter was another close battle with both teams fired up as they looked for a way to create separation. However, it was yet again a one-point margin, this time in Albania’s favour. This was the catalyst for Malta’s players to strive for a better final quarter and they finished with just that as they put up 20 points to end the game with a nine-point differential and take the gold.
L. Fenech Pace 6, A. Fenech Pace 12, M. Fenech 3, D. Galea 18, S. Sciberras 3, E. Abela, S. Fenech Pace 11, J. Magri, M. Marmara, P. Riolo, J. Said, A. Saliba 3.
A. Bokrina 11, S. Danaj 3, M. Haxhiu 4, M. Hykay 3, B. Mucenji 17, K. Alushi, K. Beqaj 2, E. Disha, I. Jorgollari 2, S. Murcaj, A. Musaja 5, S. Zinxhiria.
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