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Luxol win Women’s League title after Game Five comeback

Luxol players and staff celebrate with the Women's League trophy. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

DEPIRO 51

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL 65

(14-12, 18-18, 8-14, 11-21; Luxol win final series 3-2)

Caffe Moak Luxol reaped the rewards of an inspired comeback yesterday as they beat Depiro in Game 5 of the MAPFRE MSV Life Women’s League Finals at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion.

It was a case of experience for Santino Coppa and his team as they overcame the challenge of the regular season champions who had been the season’s revelation due to their strong recruiting ahead of the campaign, and who were firmly in the driving seat after two games in the finals.

Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Anna Fenech Pace led the game’s scoring with 25 points in another strong showing. Teammate Tayler Bennett finished her Violets campaign with a double-double after scoring 24 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

Depiro’s Kristy Galea and Nicole Agius finished as the team’s top scorers on the day, both hitting 12 points, with Jose Ann Johnson and Julia Borg rounding the double-digit scorers with 10 points a piece.
Depiro’s Claire Ciantar opened proceedings with a mid-range effort before Galea and Agius fired in from three-point range.

After two consecutive defeats at the hands of Bennett’s playmaking, Depiro looked to keep the import guard out of the game with double-team guarding. This proved fruitful in the opening stages as it took the Violets four minutes to bag their first points.

However, Bennett put up two points from mid-range before an acrobatic finish through contact made it a five-point game.

With less than three minutes to go in the opening quarter, Luxol had cancelled out a Depiro 9-0 run and made it a one-point game while getting into the bonus.

53 seconds from the first buzzer, Luxol went ahead but after missing one of two freethrows, Johnson made amends with a close-range layup for a two-point Depiro lead at the buzzer.

Luxol players storm onto the court at the final buzzer. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Fenech Pace issued a swift response to tie things up at the start of the second quarter before a Josephine Diaby mid-ranger and another Fenech Pace layup opened a gap for Luxol in the lead.

In a well-contested quarter, both sides answered each other’s attacks but two consecutive triples from Borg and Agius turned the score in Depiro’s favour right before halftime as Adrian Baldacchino’s clan led 32-30 at the break.

Defence took priority as the game restarted for the second half with the first basket coming two minutes into proceedings as a Borg layup pushed Depiro’s advantage. But Luxol switched leads almost instantly when Fenech Pace hit twice in quick succession.

With Luxol’s playmaking reserved for Bennett, Coppa’s gameplan shifted towards his frontcourt as Diaby and Mandi Mercieca overpowered their counterparts as Anna and Sarah Fenech Pace drifted in between the two, causing problems in the paint, and eventually leading the Violets to a four-point advantage ahead of the final rubber.

Sarah Fenech Pace was again on target as the fourth quarter started, with a pair of layups that forced a Depiro timeout early on.

With 5.09 to go, Diaby freethrows put Luxol ahead by double-digits as they looked to cap another solid performance. At the other end, a tough deficit was just one of Depiro’s problems, with their opponents in the bonus and Agius fouled out.

With Depiro facing a steep climb in the final moments of the game, Luxol settled into their lead and held on to complete the comeback and win the title.

DEPIRO S. Abela 3, N. Agius 12, C. Ciantar 4, J. Johnson 10, K. Galea 12, L. Sciberras, J. Borg 10, N. Borg.

CAFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 24, L. Fenech Pace 2, S. Fenech Pace 5, J. Diaby 6, S. Farrugia, M. Mercieca 3, N. Vella, A. Fenech Pace 25.

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

MAPFRE MSV Life Women’s League Finals MVP: Anna Fenech Pace (Caffe Moak Luxol).

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