Bank of Valletta Division 1 Men
Floriana MCP Car Parks 77 Cynergi Depiro 44
(16-16, 14-9, 24-12, 23-7)
Floriana: C. Patus 26, S. Pace 15, S. Borg 4, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 16, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 14, N. Andrejevic
Depiro: S. Zammit, D. Bugeja 2, R. Bonnici 7, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 9, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell) 14, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 4, K. Xuereb 6, M. Borg , D. Scafidi 2
Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, C. Farrugia
Floriana produced a fine performance and totally dominated the latter part of the second half of game two in the series. In fact, Cynergi Depiro were still close till the interval with only a 5-point margin between the two sides and even 36-33 six minutes into the third quarter but a decisive 23-4 run in the next six minutes of play proved to be the killer blow in this game.
Both teams were coming from a keenly contested opening game in the series which was decided in Depiro’s favour with a last second trey.
The game set off with a series of long distance shots at both ends. Shawn Pace (175-SG-90) had three for the greens after an initial trey from Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) but Depiro also had treys from Andrew Aquilina (185-G-89) and Kurt Xuereb (175-PG-97) for a tied score 16-a-side after the first quarter.
Three Anton Axiaq (190-C-91) hoops helped the greens open a slender lead which was then maintained with Patus baskets late in the half. The latter also started the important run for the greens in the third quarter as he led Floriana to a 59-37 lead with eight minutes to go.
Depiro tried to react but they were further hit with another 11-0 run which totally closed the game.
Bupa Luxol 85 Gzira Athleta 77
(22-16, 20-23, 21-26, 22-22)
Luxol: CJ Cordina 6, M. Mercieca, J. Maistre, JP Schembri 8, K. Dimech 2, W. Ahlberg 21, P. Cumpstone 17, S. Deguara 31, S. Cappello
Gzira Athleta: M. Naudi 18, R. Vella 12, D. Camilleri 11, M. Williams 10, P. Shoults 13, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit 3, L. Stefanovic, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo,
J. Whitehead 10
Referees: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol managed to open a two game lead with a strong closing in the game’s final three minutes as they took the lead in these decisive moments.
In fact, this was a very balanced game with Gzira Athleta enjoying the lead for many minutes in the second half.
Samuel Deguara (223-C-91) immediately made his presence felt in the game and his close range hoops put Luxol ahead. Gzira Athleta did tie the score momentarily at 13-13 after a Billy Zammit (160-PG-90) trey but Luxol responded resolutely and had a 28-19 lead after a Deguara three point play.
However Gzira Athleta were eager to fight back and an 8-0 run had them back well in contention and later treys from Peter Shoults (168-G-85) and Roderick Vella (180-PG-85) even pipped them 35-33 infront.
David Camilleri (SG) and Morakinyo Williams (213-C-88, college: Citadel, agency: Interperformances) were precise when play resumed and Gzira Athleta went ahead and till the end of the third quarter we had a tit-for-tat between these two rival teams. This continued even in the first part of the last quarter up to Williams’ hoop, three minutes from the end, had Gzira Athleta 77-76 in the lead.
From then on, Gzira Athleta hit a dearth of baskets whilst Luxol patiently closed off the game with William Ahlberg (91) getting most of the decisive closing 9-0 run
Cynergi Depiro 63 Floriana MCP Car Parks 60
(16-17, 8-17, 17-9, 27-17)
Depiro: N. Grech , D. Bugeja 20, R. Bonnici 12, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 5, D.J. Mason 27, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 2, K. Xuereb 2, M. Borg,
Floriana: C. Patus 21, S. Pace 6, S. Borg 4, N. Vasovic 16, C. Calleja 4, A. Axiaq 9, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic
Referees: G. Barbara, I. Simic, I. Marjanovic
This third game in the series was decided in the last two minutes when, with the score at 57-57, Cynergi Depiro managed to keep their calm in this decisive moment, even if missing some free throws, whilst Floriana could not score in three consecutive offensive plays. This means that the pressure will now all be on Floriana for game 4 scheduled to be played tomorrow evening as only a win can keep them in the series.
The game was interesting, even if at times nervous, with Floriana having most of the lead, with a maximum of twelve, 34-22, up till the last minutes.
Six points from Chad Patus helped Floriana open the first relevant lead, 17-12, after eight minutes. Five minutes later, an 8-0 run through Patus, Anton Axiaq and Shawn Pace, extended the greens’ lead to 31-20. Pace then had to leave the game early due to an injury.
Depiro opened strongly in the second half with D.J. Mason more incisive than in the pervious game but Floriana reacted quickly with a six point run for 43-32 and Depiro
Although having Kurt Xuereb ejected for dissent, Depiro did not fall further behind and managed to crawl back to just a point away 45-46 early in the last quarter.
Nikola Vasovic (180-PG-92) and Anton Axiaq kept Floriana in the lead but a David Bugeja (180-SG-92) trey put Depiro back in contention.
The same player and Andrew Aquilina went to the charity line a number of times in the last two minutes as Floriana tried eagerly to stop the clock to regain possession after they were missing their shooting attempts.
The free throw points helped Depiro increase their lead with Floriana having their coach Tabone also sent off in the closing seconds.
Gzira Athleta 81 Bupa Luxol 84
(22-31, 15-19, 23-12, 21-22)
Athleta: M. Naudi 20, R. Vella 16, D. Camilleri 2, M. Williams 6, P. Shoults 10, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit, L. Stefanovic, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 27
Luxol: CJ Cordina 20, M. Mercieca, D. Meli, J. Maistre Melillo, JP Schembri 6, K. Dimech 2, W. Ahlberg 15, P. Cumpstone 13, S. Deguara 28, S. Cappello
Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol booked their way to the 2017 Finals after a hard fought win in the third game in the series.
This game could have gone either way although Luxol seemed to be well int he driving seat when they had a maximum 20-point lead in the first half and even a 62-46 lead midway in the third quarter.
However Gzira Athleta made a remarkable comeback with a 14 point run till the end of the third quarter and even, later in the fourth, enjoyed a small lead 76-73.
The game set off in a balanced way with Pierce Cumpstone and Samuel Deguara incisive for Luxol whilst Michael Naudi and Morakinyo Williams were sharp on the other end for 19-18 for the violets.
The latter had a good spurt and registered a 19-3 run in the following four minutes of play, with treys also from William Ahlberg and CJ Cordina.
A further eight consecutive points, shortly afterwards, helped Luxol extend their lead to 48-28.
Although Josiah Whitehead tried to inspire Gzira Athleta with a series of mid range hoops, Luxol still managed to hold on to their lead for 62-46 in the sixth minute of the third quarter.
Athleta’s best moment came in the remaining minutes of the same quarter when they stunned their rivals with a 14-0 run, led by Michael Naudi.
With just a basket separating the two sides, all was set for an interesting last quarter and this did not disappoint as the lead changed hands a number of times.
Three pointers from Ahlberg and Schembri helped Luxol open a momentary 5-point lead but Gzira Athleta hit back with eight consectuive points from Nuadi and Whitehead.
Luxol forged again ahead with a brace of baskets from Cumpstone and Deguara but the lead changed hands again for 79-77 for Athleta.
Cordina hit the maroons with a trey followed by a fast break transition hoop but Naudi kept Gzira Athleta’s hopes high for 82-81 in the last minute.
Two missed free throws and a quick shot attempt did not help Gzira Athleta as Ahlberg then notched two important late free throws with just seconds to go and Gzira Athleta then too hurriedly attempting a last ditch long distance shot which did not find the mark so that Luxol closed off the series.