Luxol win first title defence
Gzira Athleta 46 Caffe Moak Luxol 53
(9-13, 10-16, 12-16, 15-8)
The champions took the opening step, to defend the league title, won these last three seasons.
They made an immediate impact, as they went ahead from the start, and never relinquished their advantage, throughout the whole encounter.
There were times when Athleta threatened to get much closer, but every time they saw their adversaries opening up their lead, again and again.
Athleta couldn't quite get the chokers on Steffi DeMartino, who played imperiously. Sarah Pace, even though jittery at times, performed well, and Pauls Ellul ran miles, chasing after Christina Grima, and actually limiting her to far less points than she is used to pot.
Athleta had Amelia Simmons trying to get them back on track, but she had to contend with heavy traffic in the opposing zone. Maybe the Athleta players were more in awe, of this first final, than their opponents, with the Luxol lasses playing more to a set plan.
Luxol had to make do without their American, Attirah Munir, still injured, although the latest news is that she will take part in the second match. In her place they had a new face, the Spanish, Vicky Figo, who, however, remained on the bench.
Luxol ran into a first advantage, at 9-0, with a DeMartino triple. Simmons pulled Athleta back, to within a hoop, but a brace of Sarah Pace hoops had Luxol keeping their advantage. In the second period, the cham- pions extended their lead, as DeMartino netted a second trey, in an 8-2 start.
Athleta limited the damage, but they were still trailing. In the last stages of the period Luxol netted some more points, taking them to a better 29-19 advantage, at the interval.
After the break there was still no let off for Athleta. Luxol punished them, making up an initial 11-2 run, as DeMartino nailed two more triples, with another, from Paula Ellul, in between.
Athleta had to react, and they did. They were back in the game, from their heavu deficit, putting in an 8-2 run, from Christina Grima and Simmons. It was Pace who netted Luxol's next points, before the end of the session, taking her side to a 45-31 advantage.
In the alst quarter Athleta put in their last efforts. Antoinette Borg netted a triple, as her side went under a double figure deficit. Luxol remedied quickly, making a four basket spread. to virtually close down the game.
In the remaining time Athleta cut down on the score, with a 90 run, as Beverlee Zammit and Simmons netted their triples, but time was against them, and Luxol began their quest of recording four league titles in a row.
C. Grima 11, B. Zammit 4, L. Sciberras 4, A. Simmons 23, D. Said Hollier 1, A. Borg 3, J. Schembri , S. Vella , A. Debenay, C. Mifsud
S. Pace 7, M. Mercieca 8, I. Baena Medina , V. Figo , S. DeMartino 27, K. Portelli , C. Sollami , P. Ellul 5, L. Caruana Montaldo , C. Curmi 6
E. Mangani, Simic, Z. Dobrosavljevic I.