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Starlites look for second straight Knockout title in Depiro finale

Depiro's Sean Galea (left) holds the ball of Starlites' Jacob Bourke-Doggett. Photo: Matthew MIrabelli

BOV Men’s Division One Knockout holders Starlites JSD will be looking to replicate their achievement when they face SiGMA Depiro at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion on Sunday (Tip-off: 4pm).

After a bye in this year’s quarterfinal, Starlites’ path to the final consisted of a fiery semifinal contest with Hibernians which overcame 100-point scores for both sides.

It was a fantastic performance from captain Alec Felice Pace who will be hoping for a repeat showing after putting up a team-high 31 points against Hibs. Shooting 50% from three-point range, the Malta international was instrumental for Paul Ferrante’s clan on the day, combining with 20+ point finishers Christian Hinckson and Matt Attard who caused problems for the Paolites from all areas of the court.

Another weapon in Ferrante’s arsenal will be the constant impact of US forward Kurt James. Having joined over the winter period, James has hit the ground running and has been putting up big numbers since his debut with the Naxxar side. His physicality has proved crucial on defence and his IQ a game-winner at times, particularly when paired with fellow US forward Davonte Craven who has maintained the creativity in his play – a feature which has complemented well with the spirited support from the sidelines.

Upward spike

Starlites’ momentum will surely be a problem for any opponent this season, but so will the positive run of late that opponents Depiro are going through.

The Mtarfa side have had a shaky start this season but have recently shown massive improvement and this gives coach Ruben Baldacchino’s side a fighting chance in Sunday’s final.

Centre Kameron Rooks, who retains his top-scorer status within the side with every game, has also boosted Depiro’s defence. Last Sunday, Rooks was certainly one of the defining factors as Depiro overcame league leaders Mellieha Libertas in the closest of games.

Libertas, who have only lost two games from 12 in the league this season, have been a powerhouse among the Division One teams. However, Depiro managed to contain them and eventually handed the ball to US guard Cameron Cornelius who put up one of his best performances of the season so far. Cornelius, who like Rooks is in his second season at Depiro, provided the winning touch on the day, combining with Nikola Bozovic on the wings to give their side a three-point victory.

The four-time Knockout winners will be again banking on another composed showing against a Starlites side they have not beaten so far this season. However, with both encounters ending up single-digit margins at the final buzzer, one will be looking forward to seeing if the notion of a cup final would provide a different finale.

KNOCKOUT FINAL

Starlites JSD vs SiGMA Depiro – 16.00

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