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Starlites cruise past Hibernians to open gap in first place

Starlites guard Mikela Riolo (left) drives towards the hoop against Hibernians. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Rotated Luxol power past Fusion

Starlites JSD and Caffe Moak Luxol strengthened their case for the top two spots in the MAPRE MSV Life Women’s League with big wins last weekend, over Hibernians and Fusion Quest respectively.

With the league nearing closer to the post-season, the battle for first place – a direct pathway to the playoff finals – is heating up with just two points separating last season’s challengers, with third-placed Depiro, who were out of play last weekend, a further two points below.



(16-28, 18-22, 11-26, 17-15)

On Saturday, Starlites centre Paige Cannon started her path to a 21 points-18 rebounds double-double when she opened the game’s scoring with a mid-range jumpshot. Hibs’ Jasmine Abela replied with a three-pointer but Cannon was again on the scoreboard to give the title holders an early lead.

The game’s top scorer with 36 points, Steffi De Martino, hit from deep before a Lyndsey Whilby three-ball as both teams had a swift answer to each other’s attempts in the opening stages of the encounter.

The game became fast-paced, but this resulted in a lull in points as it seemed as though both sides were compromising on accuracy to play quickly.

However, in a fastbreak midway through the first quarter, Starlites opened a 10-point lead through a De Martino layup. This drew in a better flow to the Naxxar side’s offence, with guard Mikela Riolo taking charge to deliver the ball with intelligent passes or grabbing boards to eventually finish a rebound short of a double-double with 12 assists.

At the other end, Whilby, who finished the game with 25 points and seven rebounds, was the Paolites’ source of hope but it was a 12-point lead at the first buzzer.

Starlites’ Catherine Cilia equalled her final act of the first quarter with a swift layup that kickstarted the second rubber. The youngster, gradually making it into Fatih Dedelioglu’s senior team as the season progresses, finished with eight points in around 15 minutes on court.

The sides hovered around a 12-point margin for most of the second quarter but Starlites increased their lead to 16 for a 50-34 halftime finish.

Starlites’ Steffi De Martino (left) handles the ball against Hibernians. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A pair of Cannon freethrows gave way to the second half before the Starlites centre made it a 20-point game a minute into the third quarter. Four minutes later, Hibs’ Abela hit from mid-range as the Paolites finally issued a reply.

This was a one-off completed attempt for coach Sandro Farrugia’s clan while Starlites overcame the 30-point lead with five minutes to go in the rubber.

The final quarter was a formality with such a gap and while Hibs had possibly their best quarter, their attempts were matched by Starlites who kept up their prowess until the final buzzer.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar, F. Fabok, L. Whilby 25, J. Abela 13, K. Calleja 6, M. Vella 10, K. Caruana 2, J. Dabic 6.

STARLITES JSD M. Zammt Cordina 15, M. Riolo 4, A. Saliba 3, M. Bonett 2, S. De Martino 36, P. Riolo, Y. Ferrando, C. Cilia 8, M. Sciberras, C. Curmi 2.

Referees Z. Dobrosaviljevic, N. Rincon.



(8-20, 8-21, 16-7, 4-28)

Meanwhile, Luxol’s record-breaking 123-point win over Fusion last time around fueled the team at the bottom of the standings to try and turn things around. In fact, it was Fusion’s Hayley Grixti who opened the game’s scoring after grabbing a rebound and setting herself for a midrange jumpshot.

Nolene Vella levelled for Luxol with joint-top scorer Josephine Diaby – who like Vanya Baldacchino finished with 23 points – scoring next to switch leads for the rest of the game.

With 3.13 to go in the first quarter, Fusion were just eight points down after a positive opening but suffered a setback when Julie Londono took an awkward turn which ended in an injury that ended her game after just 18 seconds of play.

With Londono subbed off, the game went on and Diaby gave Luxol a 10-point lead with 2.37 to go. A Fusion freethrow brought it back to single digits momentarily but Baldacchino made it 20-8 by the first buzzer.

Natalija Pejcic opened the second quarter for Fusion before Marija Momcilovic hit from mid-range to make it an eight-point game. Sarah Sciberras hit back for Luxol with a drive through the paint which became an and-one play. Diaby hit next as coach Santino Coppa had the veteran centre lead a largely rotated five that extended their advantage to a 41-16 halftime lead.

Luxol’s Baldachino hit first in the second half with a swift combination with Shanice Farrugia. However, it was Fusion who saw the biggest improvement throughout the third quarter with the size mismatch being reduced. In fact, Fusion managed to amass their only double-digit quarter with 16 points while allowing Luxol to score just seven.

US-import guard Tayler Bennett was rested for the majority of the game on Saturday, but the gap went down to 16 points by the end of the third, prompting Coppa to bring Diaby back onto the court. This was beneficial as the Malta centre went on to finish the game with 14 rebounds for a double-double.

Diaby opened the final quarter with a close-range score and Luxol upped their game to make amends and finish the game 40 points ahead with a late 15-point run.

FUSION QUEST H. Grixti 4, J. Schembri 11, M. Mocilovic 2, M. Stefanovic 7, A. Parnis, J. Londono, M. Opauszki, N. Vella 4, N. Pejcic 4, N. Montalvo 4.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 3, H. Galea, N. Vella 8, E. Abela 4, M. Camilleri 1, J. Diaby 23, V. Baldacchino 23, S. Sciberras 9, S. Farrugia 1, M. Marmara 2, A. Fenech Pace 2.

Referees F. Ciurariu, M. De Flavia.


Starlites JSD 19; Caffe Moak Luxol 17; Depiro 15*; Hibernians 11; Fusion Quest 10.

*Depiro did not feature in last weekend’s games.

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