Athleta one step ahead of Depiro
Basketball - Men Div II Final 1
Depiro 73 Gzira Athleta 86 (18-23, 21-25, 18-17, 16-21)
The opening final gave the verdict to athleta, who led for practically the whole match, except for a pause, midway through the opening session. Depiro blew hot and cold, as they alternated between falling behind and going near to their adversaries. Athleta always seemed to have the edge, and led by an excellent Albert Serra, they could rely on Francesco Mifsud Bonnici to run the play, and Carmelo Puccia improved after the break, with Nathan Xuereb applying the finishing touches in the last quarter.
Depiro had Jack Nygaard obtaining the most points, but he dried up in the last session, and it was left to nicholas Grech to try and keep his side in the match, even if he was injured, but gamely came back on court, to finish the game.
Athleta were first out of the stalls, making an 8-3 run, from Stefan Vincic and Serra, with Depiro having Nygaard with his first trey. Depiro then forged in front, for their only time, with an 8-0 run, and another brace of Nygaard triples.
Athleta regained their advantage, till the end of the session, as they made up a good 11-4 run, mainly from Serra.
In the second period Athleta extended their lead, but Depiro hit back, with a 9-2 run, all from treys, with Kurt Xuereb bagging btwo, and another by Nygaard. Athleta recovered, to push forward again, with a 10-2 run, and more Serra hoops, also with a triple.
Nygaard put in more points, and a fifth triple, but Athleta responded before the interval, as Vincic sank his trey, and Athleta were leading 48-39.
After the break Depiro had to chase their opponents, and reply to athleta's points. This time it was puccia for athleta, active in the paint, and Mifsud Bonnici netting a triple.
Depiro began to draw near once more, with Nygaard and Xuereb hoops, but Mifsud Bonnici managed another trey, as Athleta kept their advantage constant, on a 65-57 score.
In the last session Depiro's attempts to gain ground had a setback, as Adam Chomo was fouled out. It was the turn of Grech, with a personal 8-2 run, and a triple, to take Depiro just a point behind. At the other end Xuereb finally sank his triples, two of them, in an 8-0 run, when Depiro's hopes took a nosedive, as Xuereb was out, on two technical fouls, with three minutes remaining.
Athleta absorbed Depiro's last frantic attempts, even if Grech managed another trey, but a final three point spread took Athleta enough in front, for Depiro to concede the match.
The second final is on, for next Tuesday, again at 7.30pm.
Depiro: A. Attard , N. Grech 17, J. Camilleri , A. Chomo 10, K. Xuereb 12, M. Borg 8, M. Zloh , M. Brincat, J. Nygaard 26, M. Debattista , J. Vibe
Athleta: K. Schembri, F. Mifsud Bonnici 13, C. Puccia 12, A. Serra 27, L. Stefanovic 2, N. Xuereb 21, J. Aquilina , J. Caruana , S. Vincic 9, J. Ransley 2, M. Cilia
Referees: E. Mangani, T. Mantere, C. Xuereb