Athleta in comfortable victory
Gzira Athleta 83 Cynergi Depiro 53 (18-16, 29-9, 13-14, 23-14)
Athleta disposed of Depiro in the first semi final. They had already beaten them in an Independence Cup semi final, but this time Depiro were without one of their mainstays, David Bugeja, still injured form their encounter, last week. Kurt Xuereb was back in the Depiro ranks. Athleta, despite their all round strength, are making plans to sign another foreigner, a Dutchman, in the transfer window just opened.
It was Depiro with the opening hoop, by Robert Bonnici, but Athleta countered with an 8-0 run, mainly by Josiah Whitehead. Depiro had Xuereb, and later on Dominic Scafidi, to make up their points, but all of the Athleta players on court were making points, with Roderick Vella nailing a triple, as Athleta held on to a slight advantage.
In the next period Athleta began hotly, with a 10-0 run, as their treys began to fly in, with David Camilleri and Vella once more. Andrew Aquilina also put in a triple for Depiro, but Athelta then made up a 7-2 run, with another Camilleri triple.
Till the end of the session Athleta kept the momentum going, finishing with another 12-2 run, as Peter Shoults and Camilleri twice more, sank their treys, to give their side a heavy 47-25 ad- vantage.
After the break Athleta did not let up with a 9-0 start, and a further Camilleri trey. Scafidi netted Depiro's triple, with Athleta extending their lead with some more points.
Depiro had a good ending to the session, pressing their opponents, and making up a good 110 run, with triples by Bonnici and Samuel Zammit, to make up a more realistic score, at 60-39, for Athleta.
The last period had Athleta keeping a firm grip on the match, as they drew away gradually from their adversaries. More triples, from Camilleri, Shoults and Billy Zammit, along with more points from skipper, Michael Naudi, kept the Depiro defence busy, to annul the points Depiro made till the end of the match.
Athleta marched into the final of a competition, in which they have the largest number of successes, eight in all, from all the sides who took part throughout the series.
Athleta: M. Naudi 16, R. Vella 8, D. Camilleri 24, L. Stefanovic, P. Shoults 10, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit 6, S. Vincic 2, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 17
Depiro: J. Attard, N. Grech, R. Bonnici 14, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 5, S. Zammit 7, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 4, K. Xuereb 6, M. Borg, D. Scafidi 17
Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Marjanovic
Floriana make sure after the interval
Bupa Luxol 56 Floriana MCP Car Parks 68 (8-14, 25-18, 9-22, 14-14)
Floriana went into their second final of the season, after their loss in the Independence Cup final. They had to withstand some tough pressure from a revamped Luxol outfit, but the Greens finally pulled through in the end, to advance further. Luxol had their moments, even going in front, but finally they had to bow their heads.
Luxol were boosted by the introduction, on court, of their Dutchman, William Ahlberg, who is now classified as a local foreigner, and can play alongside their American, Pierce Cumpstone, who saw less of the ball, due to Ahlberg's introduction. Floriana were again without Abraham Portelli, but Dirk Schembri is now a fixture in their side.
Floriana had already beaten Luxol in another semi final, in the Independence Cup.
The Greens started with a 10-2 run, as Anton Axiaq netted their first two hoops, and Nikola Vasovic provided the next three. Luxol's Cumpstone and CJ Cordina sank their triples, but the Greens made more points in between, to hold an advantage over their opponents. In the second period there were points aplenty.
Luxol went nearer at first, with Ahlberg hoops, but Floriana rallied with a 9-3 run, to open up another lead.
Luxol's next forays brought them a long 11-2 run, which first had them on level terms, and then took them past their opponents.
Shawn pace free shots had Floriana again in front, but a very late Ahlberg triple gave the Violets a slim 33-32 advantage at the interval.
After the break Vasovic netted his triple for Floriana, answered back immediately with Cumpstone's for Luxol, who took another lead, but the Greens were clicking well, and they swept past their adversaries, with a long and healthy 17-2 run, as Chad Patus, twice, Pace and Vasovic sank more triples, to take their side to a 54-42 advantage.
The last quarter had Luxol then putting in their treys, by Keith Dimech and Cordina, twice. Patus also netted a trey for the Greens, with Luxol losing Cumpstone of fouls, less than two minutes from time.
They were unable to make any significant inroads, with Floriana edging further in front. The game ended with treys at either end, with Ahlberg for Luxol and Patus for the Greens.
Luxol: CJ Cordina 9, M. Mercieca 3, J. Willoughby 2, D. Meli, J. Maistre Melillo, K. Dimech 3, W. Ahlberg 23, P. Cumpstone 14, S. Cappello 2
Floriana: C. Patus 20, S. Pace 6, D. Schembri 8, S. Borg, N. Vasovic 20, C. Calleja 4, A. Axiaq 10, N. Andrejevic
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, S. Micallef
Matthew Naudi of Gzira Athleta (left) and Andrew Aquilina of Cynergi Depiro (right)Photo: Domenic Aquilina