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Luxol force tie-breaker against Depiro after second win in Women’s Finals

Luxol's Mandi Mercieca looks for an opening ahead of Depiro's Nicole Agius. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Game Five to be played on Sunday


DEPIRO 46 (2)

(16-13, 12-14, 11-9, 18-10)

Caffe Moak Luxol pushed their MAPFRE MSV LIFE Women’s Playoff finals tie until the end as they levelled the series on Thursday with another strong showing against Depiro at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

It was a case of shifting the pressure onto the series leaders and Luxol’s plan worked as Depiro looked a pale shadow of their usual selves for a second consecutive game. Sophie Abela and Kristy Galea were Depiro’s top players on the day despite a shaky performance from both. Abela went close to a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Galea followed with 11 points, the only player on the court to hit more than one three-pointer throughout the entire game. 

On the other hand, Luxol’s Anna Fenech Pace continued her rich vein of form in this season’s playoffs to lead the game’s scoring with 15 points. Violets stalwart Josephine Diaby was next with 13 points and eight rebounds but it was her influence on the game which played the greatest part in her performance as the Luxol captain was ever-present at both ends of the court as one of two Luxol players to play all the 40 minutes on Thursday. The other player, Tayler Bennett, grabbed double-figure boards with 10, putting up six points in the process as once again, the US guard’s role shifted towards stealing the ball and leading the playmaking.

Depiro centre Jose Ann Johnson kickstarted the game’s scoring with a mid-range jumpshot before Shanice Farrugia put Luxol’s first points on the board with a pair of made freethrows. Both sides equalled each other in the opening stages before a Fenech Pace three-pointer started the Violets’ first gap on top. Santino Coppa’s side continued to push but Abela kept it a close game with a mid-range effort as Luxol led by three at the first buzzer.

Depiro opened the second quarter with a pair of Julia Xerri layups but Luxol reacted immediately to tie and go on a 10-0 run to set up another buffer in the lead. Galea broke this surge with a triple three minutes from halftime, before Nicole Agius hit from deep to make it a one-point game.

Depiro’s Julia Xerri tries to avoid the press from Luxol’s Josephine Diaby and Shanice Farrugia (right). Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

After the change of ends, Abela pushed up the ball for the first points of the second half. Adrian Baldacchino’s clan looked the stronger side in the opening minutes but Luxol were in no mood to let go and kept up their fight to lead by three points at the end of the third quarter.

Pressure played its part in the game’s final quarter and intelligent defence from Luxol kept Depiro away as the Mtarfa side struggled to find a way past the Violets. However, when Galea and Claire Ciantar combined for five points on the trot, the game was back in Depiro’s hands with 3.33 to go. 

With the game in its most delicate moment, Luxol shifted their play onto the experience of Diaby who took over the scoring, while also distributing the ball for a six-point lead. 

Meanwhile, a late technical call by the officials sparked fury among the Depiro supporters after coach Baldacchino – who was already on a warning – was cautioned again for arguments against foul calls.

With both sides then in the bonus for the final seconds of the game, late Luxol freethrows secured their place in Game Five on Sunday. The fixture, originally scheduled for a 2PM tip-off, will now be played at 4.30PM after agreement between the two clubs on Friday.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 6, L. Fenech Pace 2, S. Fenech Pace 12, J. Diaby 13, S. Farrugia 5, M. Mercieca 4, A. Fenech Pace 15.

DEPIRO S. Abela 12, L. Sciberras, C. Ciantar 7, J. Johnson 5, K. Galea 11, N. Agius 7, J. Xerri 4, J. Borg.

Referees G. Barbara, I. Ciurariu, M. De Flavia.

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