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Depiro steam past Luxol for Game One lead in Women’s playoff finals

Depiro's Julia Borg (centre) heads out of the team's painted area for a fastbreak. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

DEPIRO 53 (1)

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL 38 (0)

(8-15, 15-5, 18-14, 12-4)

Depiro’s Sophie Ablea put up a game-leading 21 points in the MAPRE MSV Life finals series opener to help her side take a commanding lead against Caffe Moak Luxol on Sunday at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

Abela, who finished with a double-double after 11 rebounds led the scoring ahead of Kristy Galea who finished with 12 points. Centre Jose Ann Johnson grabbed 11 rebounds to compensate for an unusually low-scoring day. However, it was a story of consistency within the team as defence was again Depiro’s forte to deny Luxol the offensive freedom they are used to.

Among the Violets, Josephine Diaby went closest to double-digits with nine points as Tayler Bennett followed with eight and 15 rebounds, with Sarah Fenech Pace going double-digits on the boards as well with 10.

Fenech Pace opened proceedings with a layup before Galea fired for Depiro with a mid-range jumpshot. It was a balanced opening between the two finalists who pushed each other’s boundaries.

Anna Fenech Pace was on the end of a successful pass through contact from Diaby to open Luxol’s first margin after Shanice Farrugia had given them the lead with just under three minutes to go in the first quarter.

Santino Coppa’s Violets stuck to their offence to keep Depiro seven points behind at the first buzzer.

Anna Fenech Pace was on the end of the first basket as the game restarted for the second quarter before Leanne Sciberras fired in from three-point range to minimise Depiro’s deficit.

Eventually, scores from Galea and Claire Ciantar levelled the score in the seventh minute of the rubber as Luxol fell into foul trouble, and Abela retook the lead for Depiro with a swift euro-step finish. Diaby hit back from midrange to stop the run but Galea was accurate from deep to send her team ahead 23-20 at halftime.

Depiro’s Kristy Galea drives towards the hoop against Luxol. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

After the change of ends, Luxol’s Farrugia hit first with a two-point effort but Depiro replied with two straight triples from Abela and Julia Xerri. Abela was again on target to give Adrian Baldacchino’s side a double-digit advantage midway through the third quarter.

Luxol fought back with their offensive play centred around Bennett but could only bring it down to a seven-point Depiro lead ahead of the final rubber after impressive playmaking from Sciberras.

Abela restarted the scoring in the fourth quarter with a fastbreak. Diaby responded with a sprint to meet a diagonal pass from Anna Fenech Pace at the other end before rising to hit a layup. However, it was Depiro’s game as the gap grew to 15 and the top seed took a 1-0 lead in the final series ahead of Game Two on Wednesday (tip-off:18.45).

DEPIRO S. Abela 21, J. Xerri 3, C. Ciantar 3, J. Johnson 1, K. Galea 12, N. Agius 2, L. Sciberras 8, J. Borg 3.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 8, S. Fenech Pace 6, J. Diaby 9, S. Farrugia 7, A. Fenech Pace 5, M. Mercieca 2, N. Vella 1.

Referees Z. Dobrosaviljevic, N. Rincon, N. Azzopardi.

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