A historic result was achieved in local basketball when the men national team won the gold medal for the first time ever in the FIBA European Championships for Small Countries, a competition that has been going on since 1988 and was now in its 16th edition.
This year the championships, which are played every two years, were held in San Marino.
Malta’s men national team had its first ever podium finish in 2010 when in the games played in Malta they had won bronze. Two years later they again achieved the third place in San Marino and then, in 2014, they had their best ever placing before this year when they won silver in Gibraltar.
In San Marino, Malta was drawn up in Group B and faced Andorra on the opening day and got off to a very strong start with a 96-64 win.
On the following day, Malta made sure of a semi final berth when they overcame Ireland 76-65
The semi final opponents were Gibraltar and again Malta showed their supremacy with a decisive 102-57 victory.
The gold medal game was between Malta and the highly regarded Norwegian national team but Malta did not falter and continued on their winning streak by beating Norway 75-59.
Malta celebrated further this historic success when two players were also chosen amongst the championships all-star 5, Aaron Falzon and Samuel Deguara, with the latter towering centre also then chosen as the MVP of the championships. See news from Fiba.com
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This was not the only feat accomplished by the national sector as the women national team achieved a further good result when they won bronze in the FIBA Women European Championships for Small Countries that was played in Cork, Ireland.
Malta, who was drawn up in Group A, had a difficult start when they faced tournament favourites and eventual winners Denmark and succumbed to a 58-96 defeat.
Malta increased their morale on the second day when they outclasses Moldova with a 122-32 win.
A semifinal spot was at stake on day three and Malta did not disappoint as they beat Gibraltar 71-32.
Malta crossed swords with Luxembourg in the semi-final and had to bow down in the latter stages of the match for a 47-62 result.
The bronze medal game was between Malta and Norway and here the local girls produced a fine performance and emerged 67-59 winners to book a podium place, their fourth bronze in these championships to add to the three gold in 2008, 2010 and two years ago in Gibraltar.
Ashleigh Vella was also chosen as one of the championships’ all-star five.