Malta Independent

Starlites bounce back to winning ways

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Starlites Naxxar 78 Depiro 57

(24-16, 16-18, 20-12, 18-11)

Starlites had suffered a surprise defeat to Mellieha, in their last match, but they were back to a winning formula, to inflict their third victory over Depiro, this season. They also are alone at the top of the standings, albeit with a game more, as Hibernians were in action, the day after, and a victory would put them on equal footing with Starlites. Starlites had Matthew Scerri back in the fold, after missing their last encounter, and Kurt Xuereb made his debut for them, after his long injury, which cost him the opening of the season. Not so Robert Bonnici, who sadly, seems to be out for the rest of the season, after his mishap, against Luxol. Depiro recovered ball handler, Andy Attard, who had missed their last four matches, through injury. It was Starlites' fifth win in six matches, whilst Depiro have ground to make up, with their fourth loss in as many games, to harbour any hopes of a play off place.

Starlites opened well, with Xuereb bagging his first points with a trey, with Scerri also netting a triple. Depiro had their American duo, TJ Attwood, who had won the November BOV Player of the Month award, and Alex Oriakhi, to overtake their opponents, and Attwood tied the score with his trey. Starlites were in front again, as Scerri sank a second triple, and although Depiro stayed close, the end of the opening period was in Starlites' favour, as further treys, from Americans, Myles Thomas and Jacob Bates, opened up their advantage. The second session had Depiro steadier on court. Starlites were still ahead, but their scoring dwindled a little. Ian Felice Pace and Thomas netted treys, and Bates had his free throws, but Depiro countered with Attwood's tenacity, as he also made his second triple, with Michael Debattista doing likewise, soon after. At the halfway stage Starlites were ahead, to the tune of a 40-34 score.

After the break Depiro tried to hold on, as Thomas netetd a second trey, but Depiro found a reply. A Starlites 9-0 run put distance between the two sides, as Xuereb sank a trio of buckets in quick time. American, Terrance Reese's trey, for Depiro had Alec Felice Pace counter in like manner, with depiro ending the period with a quartet of free shots, but they were still languishin­g on a 46-60 adverse score, when the last session began. . They were soon falling further in arrears, as Ian Felice Pace and Miguel Fabri put in their triples. The die was cast, even if Miguel Brincat managed a trey for Depiro. . Starlites were well in front, to finish off as comfortabl­e winners.

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 9, I. Azzopardi , A. Azzopardi , I. Felice Pace 8, M. Fabri 3, L. Riolo , J. Bates 17, L. Farrugia 2, K. Vuereb 9, J. Haynes 6, M. Thomas 18

Depiro: S. Galea , B. Nel 2, A.

Attard , N. Grech , S. Vella , TJ Attwood 26, M. Brincat 5, M. Mallia , A. Oriakhi 12, M. Debattista 5, L. Vella , T. Reese 9

Referees: B. Vassallo, I. Ciurariu, F. Ciurariu

Athleta edge through, after late scare

Gzira Athleta 90

Mellieha Libertas 86

(18-21, 23-21, 19-18, 30-26)

Athleta: Z. Hudson 26, S. Montague 26, L. Stefanovic 8, N. Xuereb 14, S. Vincic 4, R. Abela 2, S. Mangianiel­lo , B. Zammit 10

Mellieha: M. Falzon , V. Jandric 21, N. Vasovic 18, I. Bonett 1, C. Briffa, N. Bukva 14, J. Joyner 16, M. Azzopardi , CJ Cordina 3, N. Sultana , A. Wrighten 13

Referees: B. Vassallo, I. Simic, V. Nikolic

Paolites given tough time by Luxol

Bupa Luxol 70

Hibernians 79

(18-21, 23-21, 19-18, 30-26)

Luxol: J. Cefai 8, K. Gauci , N. Buhagiar , P. Attard 7, JP Schembri 3, A.Trapani , L. Trapani , C. Coffey 23, S. Opojevlic 11, M. Matijevic 18

Hibs: M.Vires 17, N. Cassar , D. Bugeuja 11, L. Farrugia 7, K. Dimech 2, A. Axiaq 6, R. Aquilina ,M. Attard , C. Soderholm 17, I. Demcesen 19

Referees: D. Torok, Z. Dobrosavlj­evic, I. Ciurariu

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