Hibernians win first game of campaign
Starlites JSD maintained their unbeaten league run with another win, this time against Depiro on Saturday at the Ta’ Qali Pavillion.
It was a test of patience for coach Fatih Dedelioglu’s side as Depiro could have had their way in every quarter, but the Naxxar side turned the game around ahead of both halves to take their fifth win on the trot.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Starlites import player Paige Cannon praised her team’s attitude to get the win.
“I thought it was a really aggressive and hard-fought game,” Cannon said.
“We prepared really hard for this matchup and despite getting down by quite a bit in the second quarter, we kept our composure, stuck to our game plan, and fortunately ended up on top.
“It was really important for us to keep our focus and continue our game plan throughout the entire game, especially in the 4th quarter.”
Asked about the fact that since her arrival, Cannon has been the focus of defences in the paint, getting double or even sometimes triple-teamed, a tactic which gives Starlites space for their shooters out wide.
“When I get double or triple-teamed I always try my best to find my open teammates and get the best shot possible,” she said.
“Our team chemistry on the court is getting better every game I feel and that is going to continue to bring us success I believe.
“It has been a pretty easy adjustment for me to play with this team. Everyone has the same team goals so we are all able to work toward those goals together, which is really nice!”
Meanwhile, Lyndsey Whilby put up 39 points as an inspired Hibernians grabbed their first win of the season when they blew out fellow league strugglers Fusion Quest in a bottom-of-the-table contest.
STARLITES JSD 76
(18-16, 19-24, 11-12, 14-24)
Depiro’s Kristy Galea opened the scoring with a mid-range jumpshot before Steffi de Martino equalised from under the hoop, before giving her side the lead with a freethrow. This became a 10-0 run for Starlites before Clair Ciantar stopped this with a eurostep layup.
Mikela Riolo put Starlites up by double digits with 5.24 remaining in the first quarter as Depiro looked stagnant. However, a timeout came to the Mtarfa side’s aid as they pushed for level terms and Galea hit from deep to change the lead ahead of the final minute of play in the rubber.
Depiro’s momentum overlapped into the second quarter with Julia Borg, who put up her side’s best scoring with 20 points, taking over the side’s offence.
With 6.34 to go in the half, Julia Xerri hit from three-point range to put Depiro up by 10 but Starlites fought back to level terms with a Maria Bonett freethrow. De Martino then hit a trademark three-pointer with less than a minute to go and the Naxxar side were up 40-37 at the break.
After the change of ends, Borg again added to her scoring tally, opening the second half with full points from an and-one play. A balanced quarter was to come as both teams responded to each other’s advances, keeping up a margin which never got past four points until the buzzer.
The final quarter was more of the same as the two title contenders cancelled each other out with defence playing a crucial part in keeping the score as close as possible. However, Starlites opened a momentary double-digit lead through Michela Zammit Cordina who hit four straight points before Cannon gave her side the day’s highest lead with 16 points.
Depiro attempted to try and force a final change in the lead but Starlites held firm to take the win.
DEPIRO S. Abela 6, N. Agius, J. Xerri 9, L. Sciberras 2, C. Ciantar 4, J. Borg 20, J. Johnson 7, N. Borg, K. Galea 14.
STARLITES JSD M. Zammit Cordina 15, M. Riolo 8, A. Saliba, M. Bonett 11, S. De Martino 28, P. Cannon 12, C. Curmi 2.
Referees Z. Dobrosaviljevic, G. Russo.
FUSION QUEST 48
(13-24, 12-21, 11-28, 12-20)
Julija Dabic hit the first points of the game after grabbing a rebound from a Lyndsey Whilby shot, putting back the ball over the Fusion defenders. Augustina Ledesma, who was back after a one-game absence to finish with 23 points on the day, scored her team’s first point from a freethrow.
It was a balanced opening from the two sides who have been struggling so far in the league but while Hibs had led for quite some time, Ledesma scored from three-point land to give Fusion the lead midway through the quarter. Whilby changed leads with 4.40 to go and Hibs went on a 12-0 run before Ledsema scored a buzzer-beating three-ball to end the quarter in style.
Hibs’s Whilby put her side up by double digits minutes into the second quarter before Fanni Fabok made the gap 20 with 4.21 to go in the half. It became an uphill struggle for Fusion but yet again, Ledesma had the final say of the rubber with a three-pointer to end the half at 45-25 in Hibs’ favour.
Jasmine Abela opened the second half scoring with a long-range effort but Fusion looked a calmer side as the game restarted, with Nicole Vella and Marija Momcilovic hitting to counter the Hibs offensive. Despite this, Hibs’ lead grew to 30 after a Dabic putback with less than three minutes to go until the final quarter.
After a 13-0 run which extended into the final rubber, Hibs were leading by 47 points, a lead that made the remaining minutes a formality as Fusion could only put up nine more points as the paolites confirmed their first win of the season.
FUSION QUEST H. Grixti 3, M. Momcilovic 2, M. Stefanovic 8, J. Schembri 3, E. Pace, A. Ledesma 23, M. Opauszka, N. Vella 9.
HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 9, E. Farrugia 4, F. Fabok 2, I. Agius 4, L. Whilby 39, J. Abela 9, B. Agius 3, S. Vella 4, K. Caruana 5, A. Mallia, J. Dabic 14, M. Mendez.
Referees G. Russo, F. Ciurariu.
Starlites JSD 8; Caffe Moak Luxol 7; Depiro 6; Hibernians, Fusion Quest 3.
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