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Mellieħa hold onto top spot after Luxol victory

Mellieha Libertas' Robert Bonnici (centre) rises up to score a layup against Luxol on Sunday. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Depiro up in third place after Hibernians’ triumph

Mellieħa Libertas bounced back from their previous week’s defeat to beat Luxol on Sunday at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

Meanwhile, SiGMA Depiro made it five wins on the trot last weekend with a disciplined team effort to overcome Hibernians, their rivals for the final playoff spot.

In the day’s final game, Starlites JSD and Athleta provided a spectacle representative of what could be a potential tie between the two in the postseason, with the former coming out on top after second-half dominance.



(22-21, 14-26, 16-18, 24-26)

It was a monster performance from Mellieha’s Kwame Thompson on the day who led the game with 41 points in close to 37 minutes. The import guard went 60% from both two and three-point range and was the team’s go-to player in the absence of David Bugeja and Tedrick Wolfe.

At the other end, Luxol’s Nathan Xuereb was again in fine form with a 28-point outing to lead a side pushing predominantly through its youth ranks. In fact, following the 22-year-old was Malta youth international Adam Azzopardi who put up a 17-point – 10-rebound double-double.

Mellieha bagged the first lead of the day with a Thompson layup before Marko Matijevic tied things up for Luxol a few seconds later.

Xuereb hit the first three of the encounter to change leads in favour of Luxol as the two sides began to counter each other on every play and it was just a point to separate them at the first buzzer.

Thompson restarted the scoring as play ensued for the second quarter. Luxol’s Azzopardi responded to retake the lead with Xuereb and Thompson hitting next from three-point range on either side.

Mellieha got into rhythm as the quarter progressed, opening a double-digit lead midway through proceedings to head into halftime up 47-36.

Mellieha Libertas’ Kwame Thompson (left) battles with Luxol’s Nathan Xuereb. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

After the change of ends, Mellieha’s Alexander Peacock hit first with a mid-range effort before an Eduardo Valdespina layup. Marko Matijevic responded for Luxol with a layup himself. However, Mellieha again pushed the lead with a Thompson triple.

Luxol’s Xuereb opened the fourth quarter with a three-ball but Mellieha’s Robert Bonnici hit back with a layup and the additional point from an and-one play. Trying to keep Mellieha away from a 20-point advantage, coach Duncan Fenech’s clan had to deal with another setback as JP Schembri received his marching orders after an offensive foul – his fifth foul of the day.

Bonnici achieved a 21-point lead for the Northerners -their biggest lead of the game – with 6.10 to go with another and-one. To add to their day’s achievements, getting into the bonus midway through the rubber provided the added benefit of another 10 points despite a valiant effort on defence from Luxol’s youngsters, who managed to acquire the bonus as well late in the game.

LUXOL I. Azzopardi, N. Jovanovic 5, J. Schembri 6, N. Xuereb 28, M. Matijevic 12, S. Pace 4, A. Azzopardi 17, P. Engelbert, S. Cappello 4.

MELLIEHA LIBERTAS R. Bonnici 17, I. Bonett 13, A. Peacock 12, K. Thompson 41, E. Valdespina 5, R. Carabott, C. Mercurio 3.

Referees F. Ciurariu, N. Rincon, F. Fabok.

Mellieha Libertas’ Isaac Bonett (right) drives past Luxol’s Nikola Jovanovic. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli



(16-18, 17-24, 19-28, 20-14)

It was a team effort from Depiro which won the game on Sunday with Alfred Hollins leading the team’s scoring with 20 points despite coming off the bench. Team top scorer Kameron Rooks followed with another double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 boards.

Despite the defeat, it was yet another classy showing from Hibs’ new boy Keith Charleston who led the game with 36 points and 19 rebounds for the Paolites.

Hibs’ Paul Attard hit first with a mid-range jumpshot. Charleston drove through contact for the game’s second score before Rooks opened his account with Depiro’s first points on the board.

An intense quarter was on the cards, with Hibs getting into the bonus late on but it was Depiro who led by two points after the first quarter after an Andrew Aquilina three-pointer beat the buzzer.

The second quarter was just as fast-paced with the two sides battling hard against each other after Rooks had restarted the scoring early in the rubber. Two consecutive threes from Hollins and Miguel Mallia boosted Depiro’s influence on the game as Ruben Baldacchino’s clan opened their first gap of the game.

With 4.16 to go in the first half, both sides were in the bonus as the two sides competing for the final spot in this season’s playoffs were making the most of what could be a deciding fixture. However, it was Depiro in the lead at halftime, ahead by nine at 42-33.

After the break, Hibs stepped up the ante to try and overcome the deficit through another Charleston masterclass but Depiro were in no mood to drop their newly reacquired double-digit lead as Cornelius and Miguel Brincat both hit jumpers while Rooks dominated the paint.

The final rubber was to be a tough run for Hibs who were chasing Depiro’s advantage, a challenge made even harder with the fouling out of Luke Farrugia as well as the bonus for their opponents.

But it was Michael Debattista’s three-ball that stung the most as Depiro rose back up to double digits ahead and won the game at the final buzzer.

HIBERNIANS K. Charleston 36, P. Attard 2, L. Farrugia 3, M. Attard 7, I. Demcesen 13, A. Axiaq 11, S. Simic.

SIGMA DEPIRO S. Galea 2, A. Aquilina 12, K. Rooks 19, C. Cornelius 7, N. Bukva 8, N. Bozovic 5, A. Hollins 20, M. Brincat 5, M. Mallia 3, M. Debattista 3.

Referees B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, N. Azzopardi.



(18-18, 22-20, 17-32, 18-13)

In a second consecutive game without Dajuan Moorer and Luca Stefanovic, Athleta suffered their second defeat in two weeks, this time at the hands of Starlites.

Athleta’s Malik Riddle led the game’s scoring with 25, bagging a double-double after 15 rebounds. Piotr Stelmach and Matthew Gouder followed with 18 and 15 points respectively.

At the other end, Matt Attard led the Starlites charge with 18 points from four three-pointers and three layups. Alec Felice Pace and Kurt James both scored 15 in support.

Starlites’ Craven kickstarted the game’s scoring with Andrei Bozanic answering for Athleta. From then on, there was no separating the two top-three sides as they fought hard to prevent their opponents from scoring. In fact, it was all square at 18-18 by the first buzzer.

Stelmach reopened the scoring in the second quarter with two freethrows. Starlites’ response was one of two from the line by Christian Hinckson. Gouder and a Francesco Mifsud Bonnici triple pushed up Athleta’s lead but scores from Louie Farrugia and Felice Pace turned the lead over to the title holders.

With both sides getting the bonus and intensity as high as can be, the lead went to and fro with Athleta finishing ahead 40-38 by halftime.

Stelmach was first to the hoop as the second half began to open a four-point cushion for Athleta. Hinckson provided Starlites’ response with a layup. Paul Ferrante’s Starlites got the next basket to level terms and eventually changed leads with three-balls from Felice Pace and Attard opening a margin in their favour.

This turned into double digits for Starlites and they kept up this lead until the fourth quarter.

Up by 13, the Malta champions did not hold back and Matthew Scerri opened the final rubber with a three-pointer while Davonte Craven blocked Athleta’s first attempt as the side re-established their dominance, keeping their lead around the 10-point mark until the end to take the win.

ATHLETA M. Riddle 25, F. Mifsud Bonnici 6, M. Gouder 15, P. Stelmach 18, A. Bozanic 6, N. Buhagiar 2, E. Abela, T. Chatzimoysis, J. Cefai.

STARLITES JSD A. Felice Pace 15, M. Attard 18, M. Scerri 11, D. Craven 7, K. James 15, C. Hinckson 11, S. Aquilina, I. Felice Pace, M. Fabri, K. Fabri, L. Farrugia 6, N. Sultana.

Referees B. Vassallo, F. Fabok, F. Ciurariu.


Mellieha Libertas 30; Starlites JSD 29; Athleta 27; SiGMA Depiro, Hibernians 24; Luxol 21; Valletta Fighters 16*.

*Valletta Fighters did not feature last weekend.

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