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Watch: Depiro sound alarm after beating Luxol in women’s Knockout

Depiro players celebrate with the MAPFRE MSV Life Knockout trophy. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Depiro’s Galea takes home MVP award



(19-9, 11-21, 11-20, 17-15)

Depiro sealed this year’s MAPFRE MSV LIFE Women’s Knockout title on Sunday when they beat Caffe Moak Luxol at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

It was the perfect ending to a hotly contested cup competition and both sides looked ready from before the game’s tip-off as both clubs brought their loyal masses with them to make sure of an electric atmosphere to complement the performance.

With this victory, Depiro have now won the Knockout competition for the third time in their history.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Depiro coach Adrian Baldacchino praised his side’s attitude.

“When I saw my team united, fighting for each other even while we were behind because we had a shaky start, then I saw Sophie (Abela), Kristy (Galea), Jose (Johnson) and everyone else giving it their all even from the bench, it was something very beautiful,” Baldacchino said.

Depiro women’s coach Adrian Baldacchino speaks to Kurt Aquilina of the Times of Malta. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

“We now have tough fixtures in the league so we need to focus on them as we are fighting as hard as we can to try and grab that top spot in the standings.”

Luxol’s Tayler Bennett led the game’s scoring on Sunday with 20 points, but it was Depiro’s Kristy Galea who stole the show with a team-leading 17and a stunning performance which catapulted her to the final’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the end of the game.

When asked about this triumph, Galea sounded her excitement after winning such an accolade.

“I’m very proud,” she said, “if one looks at the season, we’ve come a long way and we’re continuously getting better together. This is all that matters, and the most crucial part is still to come so we need to stay focused.

Depiro guard Kristy Galea speaks to Kurt Aquilina of the Times of Malta. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

“We need to stick to what we’ve been doing so far – defending, because that is our game, and getting those fast breaks.”

Luxol’s Josephine Diaby hit first with a layup in a tense opening which saw both sides study each other’s every move. Sarah Fenech Pace scored from an identical effort for the Violets before Depiro’s Jose Ann Johnson bagged her side’s points after grabbing the rebound on a missed freethrow.

Physical play was the keyword of the day as both sides pushed each other’s defensive boundaries, with the bonus shared by both teams halfway through the first quarter.

Depiro were the more dangerous side on offence but could not make their shots drop as Luxol led by nine points with 3.41 to go after considerably fewer opportunities.

Luxol’s Anna Fenech Pace (left) looks for a way past Depiro’s Julia Xerri. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Luxol’s Bennett put her side up by double digits seconds into the second quarter before Johnson completed an and-one play to bring Depiro back to within arm’s length.

Luxol were seven points ahead and in the bonus with less than four minutes to go until halftime but this advantage was nullified as Sophie Abela and Johnson powered up from underneath the boards.

This, added to their own foul trouble saw Luxol finish level at 30-30 at the halftime break after a last-gasp three-pointer from Nicole Agius.

After the change of ends, Galea was pin-point from three to reopen proceedings. Nolene Vella responded with a mid-range jumpshot but Galea was on hand to hit from deep again as Depiro now led for the first time in the game.

Whatever pre-final nerves the teams had had were no more as the two sides leapfrogged each other non-stop with the game as close as ever.

Galea was Depiro’s focal point on offence and her matchup with Luxol’s Bennett became the highlight of the third quarter. However, it was still a nine-point Depiro lead at the end of the rubber.

Depiro’s Julia Xerri opened the final quarter with a three-ball before Bennett hit back from deep as the pressure was on with the final set of minutes to go in Luxol’s fight to retain their knockout title.

Xerri hit her third straight three of the game as Depiro went 10 points ahead with half of the final quarter to go. This and Galea’s phenomenal showing kept Depiro’s bench on their feet as their first honour of the season looked likely for Adrian Baldacchino’s clan.

Depiro players celebrate as Sophie Abela lifts the Knockout trophy. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Luxol battled no less with the tide against them but with Anna Fenech Pace fouled out in the final minutes, the margin was too much and Depiro celebrated with the trophy at the final buzzer.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 20, N. Vella 5, S. Fenech Pace 13, J. Diaby 6, A. Fenech Pace 14, L. Fenech Pace, V. Baldacchino, S. Sciberras, S. Farrugia.

DEPIRO S. Abela 4, J. Xerri 9, C. Ciantar 4, J. Johnson 16, K. Galea 17, N. Agius 6, L. Sciberras, J. Borg 9.

Referees Z. Dobrosaviljevic, G. Barbara, N. Azzopardi.

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