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Depiro power past Starlites to face Luxol in women’s Knockout final

Depiro's Jose Ann Johnson (right) looks for a way past Starlites' Mikela Riolo. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Luxol to defend title after cruising past Fusion Quest

The stage for this year’s final of the MAPFRE MSV LIFE Women’s Knockout is set after Depiro and Caffe Moak Luxol secured their spot with wins in the semifinal round last weekend.

With title holders Luxol facing what on paper appeared an unproblematic fixture against Fusion Quest, the attention shifted towards an electric matchup between first and third in the league standings, and Depiro beat the odds to take the spoils against Starlites JSD.



(14-12, 18-12, 16-5, 24-17)

Jose Ann Johnson, Depiro’s top scorer in the Knockout so far and the game’s top scorer on Saturday, kickstarted proceedings with two free throws and a layup. In an impressive 19-point showing, the import centre’s strong start was necessary as Starlites opened their account with two consecutive three-pointers from Steffi De Martino and Mikela Riolo after a pair of Paige Cannon freethrows.

Starlites’s response had come close to three minutes after Depiro had taken an initial four-point lead, switching leads momentarily until Julia Borg levelled for Depiro and eventually put them ahead before the first buzzer.

Depiro’s Claire Ciantar hit first as play restarted for the second quarter. De Martino, who finished with a 12-point-10-rebound double-double, replied with a layup but Depiro’s Kristy Galea hit back with a three-ball.

Sophie Abela made it a nine-point game halfway through the rubber, but De Martino led the Naxxar side to stay within single digits until the halftime break as Depiro led 32-24.

After the change of ends, Johnson wasted no time making it a 10-point differential. Despite a Cannon score two minutes later, Depiro charged forward as Adrian Baldacchino’s side pushed up to a 22-point lead with a minute and a half to go in the third quarter.

Depiro guards Borg and Galea, who both finished the day with 13 points, were in fine form as they kept Fatih Dedelioglu’s clan at bay with Andie Saliba the only other scorer for Starlites with a three-ball in the final minutes, after a 14-0 run.

Michela Zammit Cordina and Saliba started the fourth quarter scoring in between a Galea three, one of a game-leading finish of three long-rangers by the end of the encounter.

Starlites were in dire need of points. Instead, the gap continued to grow as the final quarter progressed and Julia Xerri brought it to 26 points 2.54 from time, a deficit Starlites could not recover from as Depiro held on to secure their spot in this season’s final.  

DEPIRO S. Abela 11, N. Agius, J. Xerri 8, L. Sciberras 2, N. Agius, C. Ciantar 6, J. Borg 13, J. Johnson 19, K. Galea 13.

STARLITES JSD M. Zamit Cordina 3, M. Riolo 7, A. Saliba 5, M. Bonett 2, S. De Martino 12, P. Cannon 17, C. Cilia, C. Curmi.

Referees B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosaviljevic.



(31-8, 22-6, 17-5, 19-15)

In a repeat of their last meeting, Luxol cruised past Fusion despite fielding a young roster. Vanya Baldacchino shined on Saturday with a 33-point outing, as import guard Tayler Bennett was rested for most of the game.

Malta international centre Josephine Diaby saw just below a minute and a half of play but Santino Coppa’s clan still proved well above the cut for a depleted Fusion Quest side which saw its starting five play the entirety of the game, an issue that has handicapped the team numerous times this season.

Three Luxol players made it double figures on Saturday, with Nolene Vella, who finished with 13 points on an 83.3% field goal percentage, hitting the first basket of the day. Vella made it to seven points in between scores from Anna Fenech Pace, Diaby, Bennett, and fellow double-digit scorer Ella Abela (10) as Luxol went on a 21-0 run before Fusion captain Julia Schembri bagged the first points for her side with a three-pointer.

Nicole Vella scored next for Fusion with another three-ball before a pair of Schembri freethrows. But Baldacchino restarted the Luxol scoring before Hayley Galea made it a 23-point lead at the first buzzer.

Michela Marmara opened the second quarter scoring with a three-pointer for Luxol as Baldacchino followed with a layup. At 30 points behind, Nicole Vella laid the ball home but Baldacchino took over again to continue pushing wider the margin.

In fact, Fusion managed just six points in the quarter as Luxol led 53-14 at halftime.

Fusion’s Nicole Montalvo scored first as the second half began, but it was yet another suffocated quarter for the women’s league minnows as they were held to just three more points from Schembri and Vella, in between a rush from Baldacchino and Jada Said. Michelle Camilleri then made it a 51-point advantage for the Violets with 11 seconds to go until the final quarter.

The final quarter began like the game did – with six straight points from Luxol’s Vella. Montalvo replied seconds later, and Fusion began to play more easily as they now had nothing to lose with the game already a closed contest.

Nevertheless, the gap remained over 50 points and went as high as 58 before Elena Pace beat the final buzzer with a three-ball.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 2, H. Galea 4, N. Vella 13, E. Abela 10, M. Camilleri 2, S. Fenech Pace, J. Diaby 2, J. Said 6, V. Baldacchino 33, S. Farrugia 4, M. Marmara 9, A. Fenech Pace 4.

FUSION QUEST J. Schembri 13, E. Pace 3, M. Opauszki 2, N. Vella 7, N. Montalvo 9.

Referees F. Ciurariu, N. Azzopardi.


Caffe Moak Luxol vs Depiro – March 10

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