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Courageous display from Hibs not enough as Luxol level with Starlites on top

Caffe Moak Luxol's Tayler Bennett (centre) drives towards the hoop against Hibernians. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Seven players in double figures for Depiro in Fusion drubbing

A week after two extravagant scores in the MAPFRE MSV LIFE Women’s League, basketball returned to another two fixtures at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion. While it was a similar faith for Fusion Quest in a 78-point defeat against Depiro, Hibernians were a much better opponent in a loss to Caffe Moak Luxol who now join Starlites at the top of the standings.



(10-20, 19-15, 12-23, 21-18)

2024 had started in wild fashion for Luxol after a 123-point victory against Fusion Quest. However, seven days later, they found a closer match in Hibernians who put on a brave showing to attempt recovery from their own tough defeat to title holders Starlites, who were out of action last weekend.

Just like the previous week’s fixture against Fusion Quest, Luxol’s Nolene Vella started off the game’s scoring with a three-pointer.

The Violets guard, who had had a slow start to the season, looks to be getting into better form and while she has been in coach Santino Coppa’s starting five since the start of the campaign bar one game in which she did not play, Vella has increased her contribution to average 9.5 points, five rebounds, and 4.5 assists since the turn of the calendar year.

Fellow Violet Anna Fenech Pace, who finished the game in double digits with 12 points, hit next with a successful and-one after a series of misses on both sides of the court, before Tayler Bennett made it a nine-point game with a long-distance shot.

This early run found its end when a long pass from Lyndsey Whilby – the first of four assists – found double-digit scorer Julija Dabic ready to send the ball home for the Paolites’ first points of the day.

Just days after a tough defeat against Starlites, coach Sandro Farrugia’s clan was out to make amends and they proved a much tougher challenge to Luxol but accuracy on offence was an issue and for all their attempts, they only managed to amass 10 points with Luxol hitting double by the first buzzer.

Luxol’s Bennett hit first in the next session, after a dagger pass from Sarah Fenech Pace through the Hibs paint, but Iona Agius and Jasmine Abela both replied with three-pointers. Nevertheless, Bennett was on hand to hit from the freethrow line and make it a 10-point game before Luxol’s only double-double finisher with 22 points and 11 rebounds, Sarah Fenech Pace sped up for a layup to continue increasing the margin. A 9-0 Hibs run saw the Paolites come to within three points with 3.46 to go in the half but still, it was Luxol up 35-29 at the break.   

After the change of ends, Josephine Diaby opened for Luxol with a close-range effort before a Dabic jump shot confirmed Hibs’ first second-half bucket.

Whilby, who was the other double-double-finisher of the game, with 26 points and 12 rebounds, hit Luxol for five in between another Diaby layup. However, midway through the rubber, Coppa’s squadron went on the longest scoring run (11) to open a 15-point lead, which became 17 by the buzzer despite Marie Buhagiar stopping their run a minute from the end of the quarter.

The final rubber would have been Hibs’ salvation were it not for the margin they had conceded in the third quarter. In fact, it was the Paolites who rallied strongest to close the margin. However, the prowess of Bennett kept Luxol in a safe position to take a 14-point win even after a late surge from Buhagiar, Fanni Fabok, and Whilby.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 7, F. Fabok 2, I. Agius 7, L. Whilby 26, J. Abela 10, K. Caruana, J. Dabic 10.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 22, L. Fenech Pace 2, N. vella 10, S. Fenech Pace 22, J. Diaby 6, V. Baldacchino, S. Sciberras 2, S. Farrugia, A. Fenech Pace 12.

Referees J. Londono, F. Ciurariu.

Caffe Moak Luxol’s Nolene Vella holds the ball off Hibernians’ Jasmine Abela. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli



(7-41, 9-24, 13-33, 15-24)

Fusion Quest’s woes increased on Saturday as they suffered another tough league loss, albeit with an improved run this time, against in-form Depiro.

The Balkan Fusion affiliates have struggled to field a roster with enough players to rotate freely and this has caused the side to play with only six players on Saturday, just its starting five against Luxol the previous week, and unfortunately conceded a walkover against Starlites due to lack of players the week before.

Despite this, the team led by coach Nemanja Zivkovic has fought through the ‘underdog’ tag, and even without star player Augustina Ledesma, they managed their third-best score of the season so far on Saturday, after a Ledesma-inspired 62-point finish against Starlites on the opening day of the league, and a 48-point showing against Hibernians in December.

On Saturday, Depiro’s Nicole Agius kickstarted the game’s scoring with a layup, before Jose Anne Johnson and Sophie Abela both hit layups themselves to make it a six-point start. Nicole Montalvo hit Fusion’s first score to stop the early run but the Depiro scoring openers hit back, combining for 13 points before Fusion’s next score – a jump shot from Elena Pace.

The game’s top-scorer Julia Borg, who finished with 19 points on the day, took over Depiro’s offence in the final four minutes of the first quarter, together with double-double finisher Abela (14-pts-10ast), as coach Adrian Baldacchino’s side finished 34 points ahead at the first buzzer.

Fusion’s Montalvo, the side’s only double-digit scorer of the day with 10 points, opened the second quarter before Mariah Micallef hit all of two freethrows to reopen the floodgates for a 24-9 quarter.

The halftime break acted as a reprieve for the side that was down by 49 points as the next two quarters were a drastic improvement for Fusion and in fact, Nicole Vella hit twice to open the second half scoring. However, Depiro’s Johnson was on hand to contribute to another scoring run, pairing up with Kristy Galea as they both finished in double digits by the end of the day.

Galea’s three-pointer to counter Hayley Grixti’s long-range opener to the fourth quarter saw the game become a no-contest but both sides kept up the momentum until the final buzzer as Depiro now cemented their place in the top three of the standings.

FUSION QUEST H. Grixti 9, J. Schembri 9, E. Pace 4, M. Opauszki 5, N. Vella 7, N. Montalvo 10.

DEPIRO S. Abela 14, N. Agius 11, J. Xerri 5, J. Mallia 6, N. Agius 12, C. Ciantar 3, J. Borg 19, J. Johnson 18, M. Micallef 9, N. Borg 10, K. Galea 11, L. Camilleri 4

Referees N. Azzopardi, L. Massouf.


Starlites JSD, Caffe Moak Luxol 12*; Depiro 10; Hibernians, Fusion Quest 7*.

*played one more game

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