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Dedelioglu heaps praise on team effort as Starlites overcome Luxol again in women’s Shield

Starlites’ Stephanie De Martino rises up for a layup against Luxol. Photo: Stephen Christopher Vella

Hibernians avenge first defeat with Fusion win

Starlites JSD faced Super Cup rivals Caffe Moak Luxol again on Saturday and got the best of them once more with a ten-point victory at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

Later, Hibernians broke little sweat to charge past Fusion Quest and avenge their defeat to Depiro on day one.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL   57

STARLITES JSD               67

(13-21, 16-16, 23-13, 8-17)

The Starlites-Luxol rivalry has been at the forefront of these past seasons and since the Super Cup at the beginning of October, the Naxxar side has come out victorious on both occasions the two sides have faced each other this season.

Asked about the challenge of keeping this up, Starlites coach Fatih Dedelioglu said it was a case of being prepared.

“It was not that easy to play against the same opponent after a difficult Super Cup game that we came back from -23. However, we knew that we prepared well once again for all the possible scenarios,” Dedelioglu told the Times of Malta.

“We started well and brought the game where we wanted to be with +16 with a great defense. When we were in the locker room, I told my players that the second half would be a mental game since they were also talking about the same things that we spoke about during the Super Cup so we had to be ready for the possible comeback and keep the momentum and control with us.

“Even though we were not in the position that we wanted to be on offence because of wrong decisions and easy missed shots, my players showed a winning team reaction, especially on the defence and we knew how we needed to win.

“That was the most important part of the game since you cannot play well every game, but you need to know how to win.

“We’ve started with two-of-two, but we should now forget about this win and focus on our next game and hopefully we will be in the final of the Shield for our second cup before the season after the Depiro game.”

Starlites had sharpshooters Stephanie De Martino and Paige Cannon to thank on both occasions so far for their barrage of points scored. But with basketball being more than just points, Dedelioglu believes the rest of the team deserves a lot of praise.

“Of course, Steff’s and Paige’s performances affect us directly however, within our system, we give chances to all of our players,” he said.

“So, if they defend Steff well, then Paige shows herself, if they also defend Paige well, then we have 10 more players who can take the responsibility as Andie (Saliba) did during the Super Cup or Maria (Bonett) did for the last weekend. However, it is not all about scoring. For example, last weekend, (Michela) Zammit Cordina did not score that much but showed an incredible effort to defend Tayler (Bennett) who scored seven points for each half.”

Luxol fired first with a Tayler Bennett three-pointer in the first possession of the game. However, De Martino took issue with this and put up nine consecutive points before Bennett put up two points to stop the Starlites’ 9-0 run.

Fenech Pace sisters Anna and Sarah then combined for six points in between a pair of Josephine Diaby freethrows but it was an eight-point lead for Starlites at the end of the first quarter after a three-pointer from Paige Cannon.

The second quarter began in similar fashion as Michela Zammit Cordina opened with a three-ball to give Starlites a double-digit lead. Further threes from Cannon and Mikela Riolo made it a 16-point game before Lisa Fenech Pace put up seven points in the last two minutes of the half, in between two Maria Bonnett freethrows.

The second half was a roller coaster as Luxol pushed to get rid of the 11-point deficit after the break.

However, it was Cannon who scored first with a pair of made shots from the charity line. Sarah Sciberras replied with a layup but it was Bennet and Lisa Fenech Pace who were the main contributors for the Violets in the third quarter in between three Cannon long-distance scores within two minutes.

Santino Coppa’s clan crumbled in the final quarter however as they were held to just eight points, six of which came from layups in the paint. At the other end, De Martino was a revived cog in the Starlites machine with no less than five successful attempts to keep up the 10-point lead until the final buzzer.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL L. Fenech Pace 14, T. Bennett 14, S. Fenech Pace 7, J. Diaby 6, S. Sciberras 4, S. Farrugia 5, A. Fenech Pace 7.

STARLITES JSD M. Zammit Cordina 7, M. Riolo 9, A. Saliba, M. Bonett 12, S. De Martino 20, P. Cannon 19, M. Fenech, C. Cilia.

Referees N. Azzopardi, A. Bayraktar.

FUSION QUEST              57

HIBERNIANS   89

(6-24, 12-25, 18-19, 21-21)

Later, Hibernians avenged their previous week’s defeat to Depiro with a commanding win over Fusion Quest.

Marie Buhagiar opened proceedings with a jump shot in the game’s first play. Lindsey Whilby scored from deep twice, adding a layup as Hibs were 10 points ahead. Iona Agius added three more points with an and-one play as the Paolites looked in control at the start.

Natalija Pejcic and Julia Schembri both scored three-pointers for Fusion in between another Agius score but points by the latter, Kirsty Caruana, and Whilby pushed Hibs up to an 18-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

Marija Momcilovic scored first in the second quarter but Hibs retook command as Whilby remained the protagonist. Whilby, who finished with a double-double of 37 points and 16 rebounds, could not be stopped as the Paolites rose to 38 points ahead before Momcilovic hit from three-point range to revive her side. Milica Stefanovic and Priscila Carona both scored but it was a mountain awaiting Fusion in the second half as the halftime buzzer sounded.

After the break, Julija Dabic continued to add to Fusion’s woes with a couple of layups before Agustina Ledesma scored her first points of the game from a three-pointer. The latter went on the score 16 points in the quarter as Fusion began to look more composed. However, the 30+ points gap remained a problem they had not managed to overcome ahead of the final quarter.

Schembri was Fusion’s main driver in the fourth quarter -the closest scoring rubber throughout the game but it was too little too late as Hibs continued to match each of their attacks to take the win.

FUSION QUEST H. Grixti 3, M. Stefanovic 7, M. Momcilovic 5, S. Friend, E. Pace, A. Ledesma 16, M. Opauszki, J. Schembri 14, N. Pejcic 6, P. Carona 6.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 4, E. Farrugia 5, F. Fabok 4, I. Agius 9, L. Whilby 37, B. Agius 3, K. Calleja 6, N. Farrugia, K. Conti, K. Caruana 2, A. Mallia 5, J. Dabic 14.

Referees B. Vassallo, A. Bayraktar.

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