MAPFRE MSV Life Women League 2017
Caffe Moak Luxol are the women’s basketball league champions after beating Gżira Athleta 73-50 to seal a 3-2 final series victory.
This was their fourth successive championship success and the 13th in history.
Sarah Pace, of Luxol, was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the series.
MAPFRE MSV Life Women League
Gzira Athleta 53 – Caffe Moak Luxol 70
(11-17, 17-18, 7-15,18-20)
Gzira Athleta: M. Stefanovic 7, C. Grima 10, B. Zammit, L. Sciberras 4, A. Simmons 22, D. Said Hollier 2, A. Borg 8, J. Schembri, S. Vella, C. Mifsud
Luxol: S. Pace 16, M. Mercieca 9, A. Munir 12, I. Baena Medina, S. DeMartino 13, K. Portelli, C. Sollami, P. Ellul 10, L. Caruana Montaldo, C. Curmi 10
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, E. Mangani
Caffe Moak Luxol got their thirteenth league title in history and also made it four in a row as they have been crowned the local champions since 2014, after gettign the upper hand in the decisive fifth game in the finals series against rivals Gzira Athleta.
Once again, similarly as in the first four games of this series, the ‘white jinx’ struck again as the team wearing white once again ended on the losing end.
Perhaps the most crucial phase of the game arrived late in the first half when Luxol hit their opponents with a 7-0 run after which they opened a double digit lead, 33-23, which could never be overcome as Gzira Athleta struggled to be consistent in their offensive ploys in their efforts to come back into the game.
Athleta’s solitary lead in the game came in the opening seconds after a Christina Grima trey but Luxol were quick to respond with seven consecutive points with hoops from Stephanie De Martino and Cristina Curmi and a three-pointer from Sarah Pace, who was voted the finals series’ MVP. At this stage, coach Ruth Spoteri had to call an early Athleta time-out. The latter did have two Amelia Simmons distance shots but similar shots from Pace and Paula Ellul at the other end, had Luxol closing the first quarter 17-11 ahead, even if these were the last treys for Luxol in the game.
Although Ellul helped Luxol increase their lead momentarily to 22-13 initially in the second quarter, Gzira Athleta were still much in the picture and treys from Antoinette Borg and Milica Stefanovic made it a mere 3 point game half way in the quarter.
However Luxol were then superior in the next four minutes as they managed to open a double digit lead 33-23 and this margin remained consistent for the next ten minutes of regular play, even after the interval, as they had their import player Attirah Munir notching a handful of hoops to counter Gzira Athleta’s points coming manily form Grima and Simmons.
Further Munir hoops assisted Luxol to a 17 point lead, 52-35, early in the last quarter as Gzira Athleta were frantically trying to find their mark but some players looked in awe of the final game and shooting, especially from the charity line, was not efficient. On the other hand, Luxol’s coach Santino Coppa once again made use of just six players from his squad but these looked more experienced to handle this decisive game better than their opponents.
With Grima continuing to be closely marked by Ellul, Gzira Athleta had further 3-point shots from Simmons, who had to get the ball far from the basket as she was not being looked at many times in the paint, and a brace of hoops from Leanne Sciberras. However Luxol kept their calm at the free throw line scoring 14 out of 16 such shots in the last quarter, with Pace grabbing ten of these, thus ascertaining their league triumph.
Michael Galea, Chief Officer Business Development MAPFRE MSV Life, together with the MBA president Paul Sultana, presented the winning medals and the league trophy to the Luxol squad after the match.