Athleta face Depiro as Hibs battle Valletta Fighters
The Malta Basketball Association (MBA) drew this season’s Knockout quarterfinal fixtures on Wednesday for the men’s BOV Division One teams.
Speaking to a press conference, MBA president Paul Sultana said this year’s Knockout promises unpredictable results.
“The BOV Basketball First Division Knockout will this year be a very intense competition in a season that has already shown balance between the top teams, promising close games with unpredictable results,” Sultana said.
“The unforgiving format of the Knockout competition leaves no room for error and the teams must approach each match as if it were a final, adding to the spectacle at the Ta’ Qali Basketball pavilion.”
There were no surprises in the draw as league leaders Mellieha Libertas were pitted against Luxol in a clash between a side in cruise control at the top and another finally finding its feet after a shaky start.
On paper, it will be a game Mellieha cannot afford to lose, as they’ll be hoping to do one better than the previous season when they lost to Starlites in the final. To their aid will be their latest signing, Alex Peacock, announced by the club on Wednesday ahead of the draws.
Meanwhile, coach Duncan Fenech’s Violets will be out for blood to help their momentum in the chase for a playoff spot.
The opening game of the quarterfinals brings together Hibernians and Valletta Fighters at a time when both sides are in dire need of a motivational push.
The Paolites are currently going through a slight rough patch in the league and will be hoping to change paths ahead of their tie against strugglers Valletta. The citizens on the other hand have not won a game in the league campaign yet, their only victory coming in the John Tabone Shield in October.
Finally, in what could possibly be the closest tie of the round, Athleta face off against SiGMA Depiro. An interesting clash, the game features two sides who have made vast changes to their rosters and are both fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
Current Knockout title holders Starlites JSD were awarded a bye in Wednesday’s draws which means they will head straight to the semifinals and face the winner of the Hibs-Valleta clash.
BOV Chief Operations Officer Ernest Agius said it was an honour to have sponsored the men’s basketball competitions for so many years, emphasising that to mark the 50th anniversary of the bank, it would even more committed to continue pushing towards aiding sport.
“Bank of Valletta is this year celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its operations and we are proud to trace our collaboration with the Malta Basketball Association back to the 1980s,” Agius said.
“Bank of Valletta is Malta’s premiere supporter of sporting initiatives stemming from our beliefs of the physical and mental benefits of sports on the Maltese community.”
QUARTERFINALS (to be played on February 25)
Hibernians vs Valletta Fighters – 12.30
Depiro vs Athleta – 14.30
Luxol vs Mellieha Libertas – 16.30
SEMIFINALS (to be played on March 3)
Starlites JSD vs Hibernians/Valletta Fighters – 14.00
Depiro/Athleta vs Luxol/Mellieha Libertas – 16.00
Final to be played on March 10 (tip-off 16.00)
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