Pos­i­tive Ath­leta start not enough

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Caffe Moak Luxol 56

Gzira Ath­leta 52

(11-22, 9-7, 15-4, 21-19)

Luxol made a very un­easy start as they played out the match with­out their Ital­ian men­tor Francesco Manella who was back in his home­land at­tend­ing his daugh­ter’s mar­riage. It was left to their skip­per Mandi Mer­cieca to rally the team.

At first things didn’t seem to work out and Ath­leta es­tab­lished a good lead. When Mer­cieca de­cided that her place was on court Luxol showed their worth to nul­lify an in­ter­val deficit. Ath­leta ral­lied back but spent the rest of the match chas­ing from close quar­ters but to no avail.

The cham­pi­ons are still miss­ing Bev­er­lee Zam­mit and also had Noe­lene Vella miss­ing whilst Ath­leta wel­comed back their Amer­i­can im­port Amelia Sim­mons who was with them a cou­ple of sea­sons back be­fore the mora­to­rium last sea­son with­out any for­eign­ers. She still needs time to get in stride with the rest of the squad but that will come with match prac­tice.

Ath­leta put in the game’s first four hoops with Sim­mons grab­bing a cou­ple. Luxol slowly started their way back with Lind­say Les­sard’s free throws but Denise Said Hol­lier threw a triple for Ath­leta and they went on to make up a ses­sion end­ing 12-2 run as Christina Grima the player of the match con­tin­ued with a per­sonal 9 point haul and a triple.

In the se­cond ses­sion the scor­ing fell away with Luxol just edg­ing out their op­po­nents on points and with Sim­mons net­ting a late trey to take Ath­leta to a 29-20 ad­van­tage into the in­ter­val.

Af­ter the break, a dif­fer­ent story emerged. The cham­pi­ons lim­ited their ad­ver­saries to just a cou­ple of hoops both from Grima but they had Christina Curmi in fine form un­der the board as she helped her side to over­take Ath­leta with Mer­cieca help­ing out with her hoops.

The last ses­sion had Luxol ahead on a sin­gle hoop lead at 3533. Ath­leta didn’t take long to re­verse the score as Grima kept on with her points with a brace of treys. The cham­pi­ons’ re­ac­tion brought them a 7-2 run as St­effi DeMartino fi­nally got in among the scor­ers.

Ath­leta were only a hoop in ar­rears on three oc­ca­sions when late triples from DeMartino and Sarah Pace were only off­set with a sin­gle Grima trey edg­ing Luxol slightly more ahead.

Sim­mons’ last free shot was not enough to erase Ath­leta’s de­feat as Luxol en­sured their place as the first semi fi­nal­ists.

Luxol: S. Pace 7, M. Dar­manin, M. Mer­cieca 12, I. Baena Me­d­ina, C. Sol­lami, S. DeMartino 8, K. Portelli, A. Calleja, P. El­lul, L. Les­sard 13, C. Curmi 16

Ath­leta: C. Grima 29, M. Debono, S. Pisani, L. Sciber­ras 4, A. Sim­mons 12, D. Said Hol­lier 5, A. Borg, M. Pol­lacco, S. Vella 2, E. Pace, C. Mif­sud

Ref­er­ees: G. Bar­bara, J. Man­gani

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