MAPFRE MSV Life Women League: The play-off spots are decided
MAPFRE MSV Life Women League
With only one day to go till the end of the regular season, all the four play-off spots are now known after that Hibernians, seeking to keep hoping till their last game versus Depiro, failed in their task to beat Starlites this weekend.
What still needs to be decided is the final placing of all the four top teams and the semi final series’ sequence.
The first match on Wednesday is between Gzira Athleta and Starlites. A win for Gzira Athleta will put them in the top spot as they have a better basket difference over Caffe Moak Luxol in the direct encounters. On the other hand, a Starlites’ win would ascertain the third place for them and they would meet the same opponents, Gzira Athleta in the league play-off semi finals.
The second match tomorrow is between Hibernians and Depiro, a game which the latter would eye carefully should Starlites end up on the losing end in the previousmatch on the day. This is because a win over Hibs would then lead Depiro to reach Starlites on equal points in the table but Depiro would end up third as they beat Starlites twice in the league. That would then mean that Gzira Athleta would meet Starlites in the semi final series whilst Depiro would then ‘cross swords’ with Luxol in the other post-season series.
Caffe Moak Luxol 47 Gzira Athleta 54
(10-14, 3-20, 20-11, 14-9)
Luxol: S. Pace 7, M. Mercieca 7, A. Munir 14, I. Baena Medina, K. Portelli, C. Sollami, P. Ellul 6, L. Caruana Montaldo, M. Darmanin 6, C. Curm 7
Gzira Athleta: C. Grima 17, B. Zammit 5, L. Sciberras 5, A. Simmons 16, D. Said Hollier 3, A. Borg 8, J. Schembri , S. Vella, A. Debenay, C. Mifsud
Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Simic
A strong Gzira Athleta showing in the second quarter, with the interval score at 34-13, was very influential in this game between the top two sides in the standings.
Although Luxol improved in the second half and came closer, albeit momentarily, to their rivals, Gzira Athleta managed to regain control of the match to get some revenge for the 5 point loss in the first round.
The first quarter was a balanced affair with the lead changing hands a number of times with Luxol, still missing their power forward Stephanie Demartino, having points from Sarah Pace and Attirah Munir whilst Gzira Athleta were led off the blocks by their usual dangerous offensive duo Amelia Simons and Christina Grima.
Luxol could only pot three shots from the charity line and had no baskets in the second quarter as they started falling behind with Gzira Athleta banging in also a number of treys from Antoinette Borg, Beverly Zammit and Leanne Sciberras with the margin increasing to over 20 points at the change of ends.
The half time pep talk served Luxol to improve on their offensive game and two good runs helped to halve the deficit by the end of the third quarter, 33-45. This same margin went further down after early Paula Ellul and Chrsitina Curmi hoops for Luxol in the last quarter but Gzira Athleta recouped their efforts and managed to hit back to re-establish a comfortable lead once again.
Starlites Naxxar 72 Hibernians 68 (after overtime, 64-64)
(12-16, 16-24, 14-10, 22-14) – (8-4)
Starlites: K. Galea 12, J. Doughty 3, S. Farrugia 6, K. Pirotta 4, J. Micallef 11, J. Grima 10, P. Arguello 24, A. Lupo
Hibs: E. Micallef 6, E. Cassar 9, S. Gambino 7, I. Agius 1, K. Caruana, K. Portanier Mifsud 5, T. Armstead 28, A. Marinkovic, J. Scerri 12
Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Simic
This game had to be decided after overtime after Starlites, who could have even been happy with a minimal loss as that could have also ascertained their play-off spot, forced the extra five minutes of play with a late 3-pointer from Spaniard Patricia Arguello.
This was a must-win game for Hibs in their search for a play-off spot and they were very close to achieving this with a late turnover allowing Starlites to force overtime.
The game was interesting and pleasant with both sides eager to run out winners. Hibs were the better side in the first half with a late 9-0 run helping them to change ends with a 40-28 lead. Led by their guard Silvia Gambino and with close range points coming from Trudy Armstead and fast break points from Julia Scerri, the Paolites started extending their lead.
Starlites, who had their post Josephine Grima, returning from injury, somewhat improved in the third quarter and had a 7-0 run which brought them close until a late Kim Portanier Mifsud trey helped Hibs end the same quarter 50-42 in the lead.
The fourth rubber was very appealing with various facets. Elena Cassar had a trey for Hibs but Starlites hot back decisively and even went in front after a 13 point positive run with hoops from Arguello and their young duo Kristy Galea and Jaelle Micallef.
Hibs however replied immediately with Arsmtead leading the way and putting the blacks back in front, having also possession very late in the game. Yet a turnover off an out of bounds play, after a time out, gave Starlites the opportunity to force overtime after Arguello’s long distance shot and putting them with a psychological advantage over their opponents.
In fact, Starlites were the more sprightly side in the overtime period and quickly took the lead. Hibs, shorn of Gambino’s presence on the court, did try to get back but Starlites kept their cool and emerged winners.
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