Depiro cruised to victory over Caffe Moak Luxol at the Ta’ Qali Pavillion on Saturday in a game which showcased the team’s strength on both ends of the court.
This turned out to be the only game of the afternoon as Starlites’ game against Fusion Quest was called off after the latter did not field enough players for the game to tip off, resulting in a walk-over for the title holders.
CAFFE MOAK LUXOL 60
(29-15, 25-13, 15-18, 20-14)
It appears that the summer investment for Depiro has finally begun to pay off as they were a convincing lot to contain November’s player of the month Tayler Bennett and pass the test against John Tabone League winners Luxol but they will have Malta international Kristy Galea to thank after a 31-point performance which featured no less than eight three-pointers on 73% accuracy on the day.
Asked about the team’s performance on the day, Galea said it was a ‘huge win’.
“Luxol are one of the top teams this year and getting that win was a well-needed confidence boost for us,” she told the Times of Malta.
“Unlike the first round, we played four sessions of great defence and also managed to translate on offence. Everyone who went in matched the energy and gave his contribution which led to a huge win.”
The win against the Violets was possibly one of their greatest tests to end the calendar year and the former Milligan Buffalos guard admitted it had been frustrating to see themselves not having shown their true potential before that.
“We’ve been working really hard and it was frustrating when we didn’t perform in games. Finally, shots were falling and it felt like how it feels in practice. Hopefully, we are able to build on this performance moving forward.”
Having spent time playing in the US before joining Depiro over the summer, Galea’s performance on Saturday showed she was back in good form after a shaky start to the season.
“It was a big adjustment to return here and play in Malta again,” she admitted.
“I have been struggling to play with confidence, however, last Saturday proved that I can give the team more. I am grateful to have a team that believes in me and makes performing easier. Of course, the goal is to keep winning and giving my all.”
Luxol’s Sarah Fenech Pace hit first in the game from a fastbreak but Galea responded with a three-pointer for Depiro’s first points.
Jose Ann Johnson gave the Mtarfa side its first lead with full points from an and-one play before another Galea three-ball made it a five-point lead. Nolene Vella momentarily put Luxol back within two with an and-one, but the Violets began to struggle on offence, while Galea hit yet another two threes in an opening quarter that she took over with high-energy defence and pinpoint shooting.
This momentum spread to the rest of the Depiro players who pushed their lead to 14 by the end of the quarter.
Nicole Agius opened the second quarter with a long-distance shot from the corner with Luxol’s Tayler Bennett hitting an identical one at the other end in response. However, Deprio were looking a more organised team on court with their defence keeping away Luxol’s charge.
On offence, Johnson pushed into the paint as Depiro were up by 16 with 6.14 to go in the half. Despite Luxol managing to get back into form, Bennett became the target for Depiro’s defenders and the American was forced to shift into a provider for her team as Depiro hovered around the 20-point-lead mark.
This was a target they overcame when Claire Ciantar fired from mid-range as Depiro finished the half 26 points ahead at 54-28.
Josephine Diaby hit the second half’s first basket but once more, Galea hit twice from three to cancel out any trouble and put her side up by 30.
Luxol went on a quick 6-0 run, but Johnson spun away from contact to end the run before Agius added another from under the hoop. However, a Luxol surge saw Santino Coppa’s clan bring it down to 23 ahead of the final quarter.
The final rubber would have to be an accurate run for a Luxol comeback, but Depiro’s defence came back into play while Adrian Baldacchino’s players remained in form on offence, Galea making it a 30-point game again unsurprisingly from another three.
Luxol could not find the right lanes to exploit, and it was mostly layups from Fenech Pace, Diaby, and Bennett as the Violets had to settle for 14 points in the quarter while Depiro took a convincing win at the end of the calendar year.
DEPIRO S. Abela 11, N. Agius 11, J. Xerri 5, L. Sciberras, N. Agius 2, C. Ciantar 2, J. Borg 5, J. Johnson 20, N. Borg 2, K. Galea 31.
CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 15, L. Fenech Pace 2, N. Vella 4, S. Fenech Pace 11, J. Diaby 12, V. Baldacchino 6, S. Sciberras, S. Farrugia, A. Fenech Pace 10.
Referees Z. Dobrosaviljevic, J. Londono.
Starlites JSD 10; Caffe Moak Luxol 7; Depiro 6; Hibernians 5; Fusion Quest 4.
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