Sunday 2nd October was the St James Hospital Super Cup Day as two finals were contested.
Gzira Athleta beat theyoung Starlites side 92-60 whilst Caffe Moak Luxol scored a late basket by Sarah Pace, 3 seconds from the end, to register a tight 50-49 win over Hibernians, in the men and women final respectively.
St James Hospital Super Cup Final Men
Gzira Athleta 92 – Starlites 60 (16-30, 14-20, 17-20, 13-22)
Gzira Athleta: M. Naudi 24, R. Vella 4, D. Camilleri 7, L. Stefanovic, P. Shoults 11, F. Mifsud Bonnici 1, B. Zammit 11, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo 1, J. Whitehead 33.
Starlites: Q. Bugeja, L. Vella, A. Schembri 6, C. Schembri 3, M. Falzon 4, A. Felice Pace 12, Z. Stankovic 7, J. Formosa 16, M. Azzopardi, C. Doublet, T. Grech 12
Refs: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, S. Micallef
Super Cup Winners:
Athleta 13, Luxol 7, Depiro 5, Hamrun Liberty 1, Virtus 1.
Gzira Athleta’s arsenal was too much for finalists Starlites in the 27th Super Cup Final in history as Gzira Athleta registered a considerable 92-60 victory.
Although the young Starlites, deprived of their play caller Ivan Mitrovic through suspension, got off to a heartening start in the openign five minutes, Gzira Athleta’s offensive engine gradually started running as they had a 17-2 run in the next four minutes.
Their supremacy under the boards was also clearly evident all along the final with American import Joshua Whitehead shooting well from close range and team captain Michael Naudi positively making use of situations where he had an advantage in a defensive mismatch.
After the change of ends, Gzira Athleta, playing in their 19th Super Cup final, had another positive patch to increase further their lead to 30 points. Starlites did try their best to limit the damage but Gzira Athleta always were in control of the match to cruise to their 13th success in the history of the Super Cup.
MBA President Paul Sultana presented the St James Hospital Super Cup to captain Michael Naudi at the end of the final. This success follows on Gzira Athleta’s success in the Independence Cup Pre-Season Tournament last week.
Gzira Athleta’s coach Joe Galea said that it was very hard to motivate the players as they knew that their opponents were not the same team that won the league last year due to changes in their team
Galea said “I believe we prepared well for the final as the score tells. Our plan was to press and try to dictate the game from the start and then control it from then onwards so as also to give court time to our younger players. As a team, we still have a long way to go and we have to face tougher teams in order to win other competitions starting with our next opponents Hibs in the Shield. We are still, however, not at full strength as we are awaiting two other additions to the team by the end of December.”
St James Hospital Super Cup Final Women
Caffe Moak Luxol 50 – Hibernians 49 (12-12, 17-9, 6-18, 15-10)
Luxol: S. Pace 7, C. Sollami, M. Mercieca 1, I. Medina, M. Darmanin 6, S. Demartino 9, K. Portelli, A. Calleja, P. Ellul 4, N. Vella, L. Lessard 23, C. Curmi
Hibs: E. Micallef 8, E. Cassar 2, N. Vella, I. Agius, K. Caruana 2, R. Vella, K. Portanier Mifsud, N. Farrugia 9, T. Amrstead 22, J. Scerri 6.
Refs: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, B. Vassallo
Super Cup Women Winners:
Hibs 9, Luxol 8, Depiro 6, Athleta 2, Naxxar 1.
The St. James Hospital Super Cup women final offered a much more entertaining game which was decided with a last gasp basket from Sarah Pace that gave Caffe Moak Luxol a slender 50-49 lead but just enough for Luxol to make it six-in-a row in the Super Cup.
Incidentally, a solitary point, 57-56, also separated the same two sides in the last timethey faced each other in the Super Cup final back in October 2012.
The game had many facets. Luxol were quick ‘off the blocks’ as they went 10-0 ahead with Hibs grabbing their first point in the sixth minute. However there was a reversal of affairs by the end of the first quarter as Hibs, with debuttant import Trudy Amrstead finding her touch, managed to neutralise the deficit to a tied 12-12 scoreline.
The second quarter was dominated by Luxol with the Canadian Lindsey Lessard in evidence for a 29-20 halftime lead.
Five consecutive Emma Micallef points led the way to a 14-0 run for Hibs in the third quarter as Luxol suffered a dearth of points for seven minutes.
Hibs maintained the lead, with a momentary maximum of six points 44-38, till the last minute of the game when Micallef only managed one free throw from two to place them 49-47 ahead. On the next possession Luxol won a foul, which brought about protests from the Hibs clan, with Pace scoring only the first freethrow but Luxol gained possession with seven seconds remaining and the same Pace penetrated to her left into the paint to grab the game’s winner off the board.
Caffe Moak Luxol were then presented with the St James Hospital Super Cup by the MBA President Paul Sultana. Luxol’s president Edgar Caruana Montaldo and coach Francesco Mannella were both thrilled with the win. Caruana Montaldo said “Luxol were down by six points with six minutes to go yet I still believed that it is possible to win the game. The girls did it in the last seconds of the game and the fantastic feeling of such a win remains with you for a very long time especially when it was a final”
On the plans for the rest of the season, Luxol’s president stated “this season Luxol has invested in an Italian coach for all the female sector from Under 14 to the seniors. We intend to continue building our female sector so as to build up stronger teams in the future. In the short term, we are also training hard to win the league this season and all the other cups. Hard work should lead the girls to this target.”
Photo Credits: Domenic Aquilina, Paul Sultana