Holders through to the semis
Athleta, already with three honours under their belt, began their trek for the fourth one, in which they are the holders. They were beating their opponents for the third time this season, the other two being in semi finals, in the Independence Cup and the Shield. Depiro had Samuel Zammit unavailable for this encounter, with Nicholas Grech taking his place. They also introduced a second American player, DJ Mason, to alternate with Dominic Scafidi, but the American on the opposing side, Josiah Whitehead, was the man of the match, to deny Depiro a place in the semis. As it is Athleta will now be meeting old faces, once more playing against Floriana MCP Car Parks, in the last four of this competition.
The two teams were well balanced in the opening session, as Athleta started with triples from David Camilleri and Roderick Vella, with Mason beginning well, but then faded out later on. Kurt Xuereb also netted a trey for Depiro, but Athleta had already opened up an advantage. Depiro came back with a brace of hoops. Whitehead's three point play was answered back, as Depiro had a good ending to the period, with free throws, by Scafidi and David Bugeja, to get within range once more.
In the next session it was still close at first, as Depiro went to within a point, but then Athleta erupted, and subjected their adversaries to a pummelling, with a long 20-2 run, which took them to the interval.
Triples by Peter Shoults, Vella, twice more, and Billy Zammit took the holders to a comfortable 48-29 advantage, halfway through the encounter.
After the break Depiro tried the long way back, , and after Robert Bonnici hoops, they managed an 8-2 run, but were still some way behind. Athleta took over again, made up a 10-2 run, with Whitehead points, with a triple, and some free throws, and this put them on a heavy 64-44 advantage.
The last quarter had Depiro trying their utmost to make a game of it. They grimly put in a 12-2 run, beginning with a Xuereb triple, and following up with Bugeja points, also with a trey, Athleta still held a good lead, as they shared the play for some time, with more triples coming, by Athleta's Shoults and depiro's Andrew aquilina.
Just before the last minute of the game the Depiro coach, Paul Ferrante, received his marching orders, for dissent, with Camilleri pouring in six free shots in a row, to enhance Athleta's victory.
Athleta: M. Naudi 17, R. Vella 9, D. Camilleri 11, L. Stefanovic , P. Shoults 13, F. Mifsud Bonnici , B. Zammit 3, J. Bos , S. Vincic , M. Gauci Montaldo , J. Whitehead 30
Depiro: J. Attard , D. Bugeja 17, R. Bonnici 10, D. Schembri , A. Aquilina 7, N. Grech , T. Zammit, M. Mallia , DJ Mason 16, K. Xuereb 8, M. Borg , D. Scafidi 8
Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Marjanovic
Paolites oust Luxol out of the Cup
Hibs managed a semi final placing in their first encounter with Luxol this season. The Paolites spent the first three sessions increasing their score, with the Violets making less points with each session passing. The last period was a tense one, with Luxol coming so close to theri adversaries, but with Hibs pulling through at the end.
Hibs were missing Kieron Caruana, but paraded their new signing, Adrian Micallef, an old hand, to help them out in their remaining matches. Luxol had Marco Mercieca just a spectator on the bench.
A characteristic of this match was the number of foreigners on court.
At one time there were six nationalities on court. Besides the local players there were a Serbian, an Italian and a Spanish player for the Paolites, and a Dutchman and an American for Luxol, with the new ruling on 'local' foreigners.
The start of the match had the lead changing hands six times, before Luxol came up with a good 12-2 run, and William Ahlberg and Pierce Cumpstone triples.
Hibs retaliated with a 9-2 run of their own nearly all from Alvaro Lizaur, with Stefan Cappello grabbing a late trey, to open up Luxol's lead a little.
The second period began with more treys, Simon Attard and Lizaur for the Paolites and CJ Cordina for the Violets, as Luxol managed a 10-0 run, which steered them to a better advantage.
Hibs' reaction brought them an 8-0 run, with another Lizaur trey, to just a point behind. Cumpstone netted a brace of hoops for Luxol, but Micallef's first point for the Paolites, and a third Lizaur triple still kept Hibs just behind their opponents on a 36-37 halftime score.
After the break Luxol broke forward again, with a 7-2 run, and a JP Schembri trey, but Hibs' reply was better, making up a 12-2 run, as Luke Farrugia sank a triple and Marco Matijevic and Lizaur netted two hoops each.
Cumpstone's three point play took Luxol a point adrift, but Farrugia netted a second trey, with Matijevic taking the Paolites to a 55-49 advantage, with his hoop.
In the last quarter Keith Dimech began with a Luxol triple, but Hibs reacted with an 8-0 run, taking their lead to double figures.
Cumpstone came to the fore for the Violets, with a personal 9-0 run, and a trey, to just a hoop difference.
Lizaur's free throws were beneficial for the Paolites, even though Luxol's last fling took them just a point in arrears, but Matijevic sealed the match in favour of Hibs, as they progressed to their semi final place, where they will meet Starlites Naxxar.
Hibs: P. Attard , M. Matijevic 21, M. Hampton , L. Farrugia 8, S. Attard 5, I. Bonett , A. Micallef 3, R. Carabott , K. Sultana , S. Vella, F. Mariani , A. Lizaur 32
Luxol: CJ Cordina 5, J. Willoughby , D. Meli , J. Maistre Melillo, JP Schembri 3, K. Dimech 5, W. Ahlberg 4, P. Cumpstone 34, S. Cappello 13
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, I. Marjanovic
Peter Shoults of Gzira Athleta (right) tussles with Timothy Zammit of Cynergi Depiro (left). Photo: Domenic Aquilina