Hold­ers through to the semis

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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

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