Ath­leta in com­fort­able vic­tory

Malta Independent - - SPORTS - Wil­lie Vas­sallo

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

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