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Watch: Diaby regaining confidence as Luxol stay unbeaten

Caffe Moak Luxol captain Josephine Diaby tries to get past Hibernians' Lyndsey Whilby. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Depiro slam past Fusion Quest

Caffe Moak Luxol and SiGMA Depiro made their dominance clear on Saturday at the Ta’ Qali Pavillion as they cruised past Hibernians and Fusion Quest respectively in another round of games from the MAPFRE MSV LIFE women’s league.

Santino Coppa’s clan went on a third-quarter rampage to take a 31-point victory. Meanwhile, Depiro dominated with an impressive team effort to crush low-scoring Fusion with the first 100+ point score of the season.



(19-15, 17-13, 31-8, 11-11)

Luxol’s win over Hibs comes right before another clash with rivals Starlites JSD and captain Josephine Diaby, who finished Saturday’s game with 11 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, believes such a win gives them a better idea of what needs to be done.

“I think it was a good game to play just before playing Starlites,” Diaby told the Times of Malta.

“To be honest, as a team, I don’t think we started very well last game but eventually we got there. This is good because it makes us realise that we cannot relax even though we had good results later on.

“With a team like Starlites, whom we are playing next week, we need to stay focused and aggressive even during our training sessions.”

Asked about her individual performance, Diaby said the season so far has been all about regaining her confidence after a rough run at the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) in May.

“I am happy that my performance is getting better game by game,” she said.

“I didn’t finish the GSSE games on a good note for many reasons. I lost confidence and started the season struggling because ultimately this year the national team had an impact on me. But I’m gaining that confidence back and I’m feeling more confident in the choices I make during the game.”

A highlight of Luxol’s showing on Saturday was the fact that they controlled the rhythm of the game and Diaby attributes this to the Violets’ defence.

“For sure it’s the defence that works a lot. When your defence is good, you get more fastbreaks and apart from that, it gives you confidence when you attack. Santino (Coppa) is a coach for whom defence is everything and if you don’t defend, he will leave you on the bench.”

Another aspect of Coppa’s style is the merging of youth and experience, and Diaby believes that what was an initial struggle for her, being the senior player among players much younger than her, now makes wins even more rewarding.

“The young ones are really committed and really hardworking and they do not give up just because the coach sometimes goes crazy, even during training sessions,” Diaby explained, “They stick to it, shut up, and humbly keep working.

“It is very hard to see this kind of attitude nowadays as the generation is not the same as before. The youths have been training with us for a while and they are proving themselves with each game that we play.

“At the beginning, I was feeling a bit like a fish out of the water as I am more than 20 years older than almost all of them. But at the back of my mind, I always thought, with this team, there is nothing to lose. Whatever happens, it’s OK because there is a lack of experience and if good results come it will be a bonus. Nobody likes losing but winning with this team is even more rewarding.”

Luxol’s Anna Fenech Pace (left) drives past Hibs’ Marie Buhagiar. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Luxol started the game with a Sarah Fenech Pace shot blocked by Hibs’ Lindsey Whilby but Tayler Bennett, who finished with a double-double of 36 points and 20 rebounds, scored to open proceedings when the ball was back in play.

Marie Buhagiar beat the shot clock to score the Paolites’ first basket of the day as HIbs began to look more dangerous. However, it took them two minutes to score the game’s next shot, a three-pointer from Whilby to take the lead. The American became the target for her side’s offence but Diaby drove twice from the left to put Luxol up by three points midway through the first quarter, seconds before a Bennett three-ball extended the gap to six. Hibs fought back but could only make it a four-point game by the first buzzer.

Two minutes into the second quarter, Julija Dabic hit the first basket after both sides struggled for accuracy on their shots. Hibs’ Fanni Fabok then tied the game with the game’s next basket but Bennett had the ball in the hoop from midrange with 6.16 to go as Luxol were back on top.

The Paolites’ apparent gameplan became driving in for layups to counter their troubled shooting accuracy on the day. However, the Luxol defenders guarded the paint, forcing Hibs to shoot from distance anyway and from the rebounds, Luxol’s fastbreaks opened a seven-point lead with four minutes to go.

After the change of ends, Bennett opened the second half scoring with a pinpoint shot from three. Diaby hit another shot to put Luxol up by double-digits before Buhagiar replied with a near-identical score at the other end of the court.

The rest of the quarter was one to forget for Hibs as Luxol went on a 26-0 run across the next eight minutes. A Buhagiar three-ball stopped the run with four seconds on the clock, setting the teams 31 points apart before the final rubber.

Looking to make amends, Hibs came out for the fourth quarter on the offensive but for all their possession, they still could not find their shots and it was another Luxol score through Anna Fenech Pace next on the cards.

The game felt balanced in the final six minutes, but the margin was too wide and Luxol took the win at the end of the game.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 36, L. Fenech Pace 12, H. Galea, N. Vella 9, E. Abela, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace 7, J. Diaby 11, J. Said, V. Baldacchino, S. Farrugia, A. Fenech Pace 3.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 7, E. Farrugia, F. Fabok 4, I. Agius 3, L. Whilby 23, J. Abela, S. Vella 2, K. Calleja, K. Caruana 4, A. Mallia, J. Dabic 4.

Referees N. Azzopardi, A. Bayraktar.



(27-7, 25-7, 22-8, 27-13)

Depiro put on a show in the day’s later game as they made a statement win against Fusion Quest who were without their top point-getter Augustina Ledesma.

The game couldn’t have had a faster start as Jose Ann Johnson pushed the ball to Julia Xerri from the tip-off and the Depiro guard drove up to open proceedings immediately.

Johnson then put her name on the board with an and-one play as the Mtarfa side established their dominance early in the game. This went on until Fusion’s Nicole Vella scored from the mid-range to stop Depiro’s 15-0 run with 3.55 to go in the first quarter.

Nevertheless, Depiro continued to hit home non-stop to head to their bench up by 20 after the first buzzer.

Nicole Agius opened the second quarter scoring a minute into play before Fusion’s Julia Schembri got her side’s first two points of the rubber. Both sides were lacking in their shooting and barely any points were scored until midway through the quarter.

With 4.35 to go, Schembri scored after what appeared to be a lull as both sides could not score despite open lanes. However, when Noeleen Agius hit from deep, Depiro sprang into action and Kristy Galea hit the next two baskets as the gap between the sides grew to 18.

Galea took over Depiro’s offence and together with Sophie Abela, the pair combined for 20 points and sent the team for halftime up by 38.

Just like the first half, Julia Xerri opened the second half with another layup. Galea hit next as Depiro were up by 40 a minute into the third quarter.

Relaxing was never an option for Depiro and they were 50 points ahead with 6.54 remaining in the rubber. They began to look unstoppable in the paint while at the other end of the court, Fusion could not match the interior defence put up by coach Adrian Baldacchino’s clan.

This began to look like a mental blow for Fusion as they could only score from the line for the majority of the quarter while Depiro kept up the titanic lead.

52 points ahead at the start of the fourth, Abela hit from deep to continue the onslaught. Fusion managed to find 13 points but Depiro put up another 20+ points to score to overcome the 100-point mark through a Mariah Micallef three-pointer with 1.15 to go.

SIGMA DEPIRO S. Abela 15, N. Agius 11, J. Xerri 11, L. Sciberras 2, N. Agius 14, C. Ciantar 8, J. Borg 2, J. Johnson 15, M. Micallef 4, N. Borg 5, K. Galea 12, L. Camilleri 2.

FUSION QUEST H. Grixti 5, M. Momcilovic 2, S. Friend 4, J. Schembri 14, E. Pace, M. Opauszki 8, N. Vella 2.

Referees A. Bayraktar, G. Russo.

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