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Mellieha Libertas lose Jandric in Valletta Fighters blowout

Mellieha Libertas' Kwame Thompson tries to evade Valletta Fighters defenders in the paint. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Depiro stun Starlites to get back to winning ways

League leaders Mellieha Libertas kept hold of their top spot with a second blowout victory in five days, this time against Valletta Fighters.

Meanwhile, Athleta stayed on course for a top-three finish by beating Luxol and SiGMA Depiro got back to winning ways with an impressive victory over Starlites JSD.



(25-17, 27-16, 28-12, 25-18)

Mellieha, in pole position for the top playoff seed, registered yet another crushing win on Sunday as they blew out Valletta just days after a 52-point victory over Depiro. This time, it was not much different as Mellieha looked ready to avenge last season – another campaign where they had finished top of the table but fell to Starlites in the finals.

On Sunday, coach Ian Terribile’s clan had three players in the 20-point tally as Tedrick Wolfe led the game with 24 points, while Isaac Bonnett and Kwame Thompson followed with 20, the latter finishing with a double-double after grabbing 10 rebounds. It was a fantastic game for the US guard, who also managed seven assists and eight steals.

Valletta import guard Ulhas Satyanarayan led the Fighters with his highest-scoring game this season, bagging 21 points as Neil Cassar followed with 16. The pair both finished with a double-double after securing 10 rebounds each.

Mellieha’s Alexander Peacock hit first in the game with a three-pointer and they made their dominance clear as they held Valletta to just seven points in the first five minutes. The citizens recovered but it was an eight-point Mellieha lead after the first buzzer.

Valletta’s Davide Bellinzona opened the second quarter with an intelligent turn under the hoop for an open layup. Around a minute later, Wolfe responded by catching a full-court pass to score through contact.

Mellieha made it a double-digit lead with around four minutes to go in the first half but were hit with a setback when sharpshooter Vukasin Jandric fell to the floor with what appeared to be an ankle injury after a late challenge from Bellinzona to stop a shot. The foul, while clearly unintentional from the Valletta captain, halted Jandric’s game with him having to be carried off the court. The Northerners have since confirmed the Serbian will be out for the coming weeks.

When play resumed, Mellieha fought in place of Jandric to lead 52-33 at the halftime break.

After the change of ends, Mellieha’s Bonnett reopened the scoring with four straight points before Satyanarayan hit one of two freethrows for Valletta. The Northerners’ prowess was as clear as ever as they steamrolled past their opponents in the third quarter to carry a 35-point advantage into the final rubber.

The fourth quarter was a formality between the two sides but Mellieha made sure to overcome the 100-point mark as they had done a few days before and take the win at the final buzzer.

MELLIEHA LIBERTAS T. Wolfe 24, R. Bonnici 13, V. Jandric 5, I. Bonnett 20, R. Carabott, A. Peacock 13, K. Thompson 20, C. Mercurio 10.

VALLETTA FIGHTERS D. Bellinzona 14, N. Da Silva 3, S. Saakian 3, R. Curmi, A. Attard 4, M. Farrugia 2, U. Satyanarayan 21, N. Cassar 16.

Referees B. Vassallo, N. Azzopardi, Z. Dobrosaviljevic.



(28-21, 20-12, 12-27, 23-15)

Depiro made amends for their disappointing showing against Mellieha in midweek to spring back and beat second-placed Starlites with a convincing display. This was the first time the two faced each other since their clash in the knockout final a few weeks before.

Cameron Cornelius was again at his best, leading his team’s points with 27. Kameron Rooks followed with 21, achieving a double-double with an incredible 24 rebounds.

At the other end, Kurt James led Starlites’ scoring with 19 points in a double-double that involved 11 rebounds, as Davonte Crave, Christian Hinckson, and Alec Felice Pace followed in double digits.

Rooks started off the scoring before Cornelius hit from three-point range for a two-possession game. Starlites’ Craven and Felice Pace both hit from deep to stop the early rush in between a Nenad Bukva layup. It was a close first quarter from then on, but a seven-point lead for Ruben Baldacchino’s side at the buzzer.

Depiro’s Sean Galea opened the second quarter with a corner three-pointer before Alfred Hollins added a contested layup for the Mtarfa side as their lead grew into double digits. Kurt James brought it back down with a three-ball but it was Depiro who looked the strongest throughout the rubber to lead 48-33.

After the break, Felice Pace was accurate from deep to reopen the scoring in what was to be the title-holders’ best quarter ahead of the final rubber as they threatened a comeback with a 27-point showing to level terms at the third buzzer.

However, unlike the early stages of the season, Depiro did not falter in the final rubber and despite another Felice Pace three-pointer, they went ahead with Rooks and Cornelius scores and maintained their stamina until the end to take the win.

SIGMA DEPIRO S. Galea 13, A. Aquilina 2, A. Hollins 4, K. Rooks 21, M. Brincat 4, M. Mallia, C. Cornelius 27, N. Bukva 12, M. Debattista.

STARLITES JSD A. felice Pace 12, C. Hickson 15, M. Attard 3, I. felice Pace 2, M. Fabri 5, M. Scerri 2, D. Craven 17, K. James 19.

Referees B. Vassallo, F. Ciurariu, N. Azzopardi.



(18-24, 21-20, 11-20, 10-12)

Athleta took another step towards the playoffs with a double-digit victory over Luxol in the day’s first game.

It was a fiery showing from the weekend’s top scorer Malik Riddle who put up a double-double of 33 points and 13 rebounds as the Maroons played their second game without import forward Dajuan Moorer. Instead, it was Matthew Gouder and Luca Stefanovic who stepped up, the former going close to a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

At the other end, the usual Nathan Xuereb led his side’s scoring with 21 points, followed by Gael Hulsen who was the only other double-digit scorer for the Violets with 14.

Hulsen opened the game’s scoring with one of two freethrows 24 seconds into proceedings. Stefanovic was Athleta’s response with a three-pointer to affect the lead change that would determine the game as Christos Kousidis’ clan stuck to that lead until the end.

Riddle scored the next basket with another triple before Stefanovic and Gouder made it a nine-point game to force the game’s first timeout.

Luxol’s Xuereb broke his former side’s run with a freethrow but on the next play, Riddle made it a double-digit lead for Athleta with a slick drive past two defenders and a clean layup.

Duncan Fenech’s side began to settle in midway through the first quarter and they came as close as a point with around three minutes to go but Athleta pushed their lead up to four by the buzzer.

Athleta’s Gouder opened the second quarter with a pair of freethrows and Stefanovic was again accurate from three-point range but Luxol’s Xuereb and JP Schembri replied to start what was to be their side’s best quarter. Nevertheless, the Maroons led 44-39 at the halftime break.

Stefanovic opened the second half with two of three points from an and-one play after a cheeky behind-the-back pass from Gouder. This fueled the duo to continue pushing and when combined with Riddle, Athleta reached their biggest lead of the game with 21 points. Luxol tried to fight back but was still a 14-point differential after the third quarter.

The final rubber was a case of Athleta maintaining their lead with Luxol swimming against the current. Maroons captain Francesco Mifsud Bonnici made matters worse for the Violets with a speedy layup to start the quarter and this became the story for the rest of the rubber as both sides opted to feature a crop of younger players ahead of the final buzzer.

LUXOL I. Azzopardi, N. Jovanovic 2, A. Azzopardi 5, JP Schembri 3, N. Xuereb 21, G. Hulsen 14, M. Iloube 8, M. Matijevic 7.

ATHLETA M. Riddle 33, F. Mifsud Bonnici 4, L. Stefanovic 11, M. Gouder 11, E. Abela, P. Stelmach 8, A. Bozanic, A. Garzia 2, J. Garcia Cefai 7.

Referees G. Barbara, F. Ciurariu, Z. Dobrosaviljevic.


Mellieha Libertas 27; Starlites JSD, Gzira Athleta 25; Hibernians* 21; SiGMA Depiro, Luxol 20; Valletta Fighters 15.

*Hibernians did not feature last weekend.

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