Floriana beat Athleta at the fifth attempt
Floriana MCP 83 Gzira Athleta 67 (15-17, 14-13, 36-11, 18-26)
It took Floriana five games to get the better of Athleta, as they notched their second league victory in a row. Athleta had lost to Hibernians, in the first two days of the season, in the Independence Cup, but then had triumphed in three competitions, and are still on their way to an en plein in honours won this season. This time, though, they had to bow down to a determined Floriana outfit, made up of seven players.
It was a topsy turvy match, with an even balance till the interval. Floriana then ran riot after the break, and opened up a staggering advantage, which was nearly wiped out by Athleta, in less than four minutes of play. Floriana recovered in time, to draw away once more, and win by a handsome margin.
Floriana began well enough, as Nikola Vasovic, who played a blinder, netted a trey, as his side then led 9-4. Athleta settled down, made up a 9-2 run,with a David Camilleri triple, to forge ahead for the first time. Floriana twice tied the score, but Athleta were a hoop in front at the end of the session, with Josiah Whitehead putting in his points.
In the next period Floriana put in an 8-2 start, to regain their advantage. Athleta first drew level, then later on were ahead once more, and although Floriana tied the score, it was Athleta just ahead at the interval, on a slim 30-29 score, as the two sides evened each other out.
After the break there was a different tale to tell. Floriana came storming out, as Chad Patus sank a triple, and Vasovic poured in his points, in a 10-0 opening run. Shawn Pace also netted a trey for Floriana, with Athleta managing a brief 7-2 run, from Roderick vella and Whitehead, to halt the Floriana surge temporarily, but there was no stopping the Greens, as they finished off the session with a heavy 19-2 run, made his free shots, and Vella was fouled out for Athleta.
That gave Floriana an unbelievable 65-41 advantage over Athleta. At the start of the last quarter the tide turned dramatically, as Athleta were all over their opponents.
They made up a solid 19-0 run, with a second Camilleri trey and Michael Naudi points, which brought them well within the distance, at 60-65. Floriana recovered their wits, to net a 7-0 run, with a Patus triple, which settled their nerves, and jolted Athleta back, who however made more points, by naudi and Whitehead, but in between Vasovic made his points, with another trey, and there was precious little time left for Athleta to recover, with Floriana making doubly sure, as they grabbed a late three hoop spread, to finish off the match in style.
C. Patus 25, S. Pace 7, S. Borg 12, N. Vasovic 35, C. Calleja 4, A. Axiaq 10, N. Andrejevic
M. Naudi 17, R. Vella 6, D. Camilleri 6, L. Stefanovic , P. Shoults 13, B. Zammit 4, J. Bos , S. Vincic , M. Gauci Montaldo , J. Whitehead 21
B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, I. Marjanovic
Antoine Axiaq of Floriana MCP Car Parks (left) is challenged by Josiah Whitehead of Gzira Athleta (right) Photo: Domenic Aquilina