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Bernard Vassallo

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Powerade League Bank of Valletta Division 1 Standings
 1. Cynergi 7-3 
 2. Athleta 7-3 
 3. Bupa 7-3 
 4. Floriana 4-5 
 5. Hibernians 2-7 
 6. Starlites 2-8 
Regular Season Standings
Full Standings
Stats Leaders
Points Per Game
 Marko Todorovic27.00 
 Nathan Walkup -26.50 
 Omar Said -23.33 
 Micheal Naudi -23.00 
 Chad Patus -20.00 
Rebounds Per Game
 Chad Patus -17.67 
 Marco Todorovic -16.00 
 Nathan Walkup -13.00 
 Michael Naudi -9.33 
 Anton Axiaq -8,50 
Assists Per Game
 Michael Naudi -5.67 
 David Bugeja -5.50 
 Chad Patus -5.33 
 Roderick Vella -5.33 
 Timothy Zammit -4.00 
Steals Per Game
 Andrew Aquilina -4.00 
 Roderick Vella -4.00 
 Nathan Walkup -3.50 
 David Bugeja -3.00 
 Omar Said -3.00 

Next Round Schedule

Game 1 (Semi-Finals)

Athleta 65% Mar.26 Bupa
Cynergi 74% Mar.25 Floriana
Three teams share the top spot - Mar 7, 2017

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Photo: Chris Sant Fournier - The Times of Malta

By Bernard Vassallo

The ninth day of the regular season ended with three teams sharing the top spot and ascertaining their place in the play-offs, although the top spot is still up for grabs.
Depiro, Gzira Gzira Athleta and BUPA Bupa Luxol are sharing the top spot presently in that order, the latter due to the win-loss record in the games between the same trio in the regular season.

The only, as yet, undetermined play-off spot is the fourth spot with only one game day to go for the end of the regular season.

A lot, as regards the last play-off spot, depends on game scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, between Floriana Cafe del Mar MCP Car Parks against Hibernians after this game was postponed earlier this season.

After beating Starlites this weekend, Hibernians are still in the reckoning for a play-off spot but they need to beat Floriana Cafe del Mar by 11 points in order to keep their hopes alive, even though they would also then need to beat Bupa Luxol next Sunday.

Should Floriana Cafe del Mar beat Hibs tomorrow or else lose by less than 10 points, the greens will be assured of a play-off spot. Additionally, in the case of a Floriana Cafe del Mar win tomorrow, they would then aim to beat Depiro by five points next Sunday to leapfrog over the same opponents in the table.

With the teams so close together in the table, there are a number of possible permutations that could be had after the last day of the regular league this weekend. If the top three all win, Depiro would lead the pack but if not all win, then the direct encounters will come into play to determine placings.

Bupa Bupa Luxol 66 Floriana Cafe del Mar MCP Car Parks 52
(12-14, 18-9, 19-11, 17-18)

Bupa Luxol: CJ Cordina 5, M. Mercieca 2, J. Maistre Melillo, JP Schembri, K. Dimech 2, P. Cumpstone 10, S. Deguara 36, S. Cappello 11
Floriana Cafe del Mar: C. Patus 15, S. Pace, S. Borg 5, N. Vasovic 21, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 6, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic 3
Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, S. Micallef

Two strong middle quarters paved the way for BUPA Bupa Luxol's double over Floriana Cafe del Mar. The main factor in this success was Samuel Deguara (223-C-91)'s evident height advantage under both boards as Floriana Cafe del Mar laboured hard to try and limit the damage as much as possible.
In fact, Deguara scored all of Bupa Luxol's first quarter points, 12 in all, but it was Floriana Cafe del Mar who closed off the same quarter in the leas 14-12 as they were keeping calm and had hoops from Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey), Nikola Vasovic and Anton Axiaq (190-C-91).
An 8-0 run midway in the second half thanks to Deguara and import player Pierce Cumpstone (203-F-94, college: Stonehill) helped Bupa Luxol to open the first significant lead on the day as they then changed ends 30-23 ahead.
Although again without Swede William Ahlberg (91), Bupa Luxol extended their lead further in the third quarter as they kept on winning the boards and going 49-34 in the lead with ten minutes to play.
An initial 7-2 run in the fourth quarter, with five points from Stefan Cappello (195-F/G-94), made it a 20 point game, 56-36. Floriana Cafe del Mar tallied up a better score with a series of baskets in the final minutes through Patus, Vasovic and Nikola Andrejevic with Bupa Luxol having their last hoops from CJ Cordina as they returned to victory and regained the joint top spot.

Cynergi Depiro 46 Gzira Gzira Athleta 77
(16-19, 7-14, 11-24, 12-20)

Depiro: N. Grech, D. Bugeja 5, R. Bonnici 7, A. Aquilina 6, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell) 13, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 2, K. Xuereb 13, M. Borg , D. Scafidi
Gzira Gzira Athleta: M. Naudi 17, R. Vella 2, D. Camilleri 2, M. Williams 16, P. Shoults 23, L. Stefanovic, B. Zammit 2, S. Vincic 2, J. Whitehead 13
Referees: E. Mangani, Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Marjanovic

The game that was termed the 'game of the week' resulted in an easy win for Gzira Gzira Athleta as they subjugated their opponents in the second half to end with a sizeable winning margin.
The start of the game had Depiro open an early 11-5 lead midway into the first quarteras D.J. Mason and David Bugeja (180-SG-92) did the damage but Gzira Gzira Athleta's offensive engine started running in the next five minutes of play as they registered a 14-2 run as the duo Josiah Whitehead (198-F-86, college: Robert Morris) and Michael Naudi (193-G/F-80) were joined by Peter Shoults, with the latter notching a series of hoops.
Although the second quarter was quite dry from points, treys from Mason and Andrew Aquilina kept Depiro momentarily in the game but Gzira Athleta surged further ahead late in the first half through more points from Naudi.
A 9-2 run in the first part of the second half helped Gzira Gzira Athleta go 42-25 ahead and now they were in charge of the match. Kurt Xuereb did grab a couple of hoops for Depiro but Gzira Gzira Athleta were not going to lose the momentum as they closed off the quarter with another positive run, this time 13-3.
The last quarter was quite a formality with Gzira Gzira Athleta continuing to direct the game and even having more baskets from their latest addition 'Mike' Williams as the latter centre player also scored his side's last four hoops of the game.

Starlites Naxxar 76 Hibernians 96
(19-27, 20-25, 15-20, 22-24)

Starlites: I. Mitrovic 10, R. Carabott 3, A. Schembri 8, M. Falzon 2, A. Felice Pace 8, N. Stankovic 26, J. Formosa 19, I. Felice Pace
Hibs: P. Attard 2, M. Hampton, E. Xuereb, L. Farrugia 12, S. Attard 3, I. Bonett, A. Micallef 16, M. Matijevic 11, S. Vella, F. Mariani 12, A. Lizaur 38
Referees: B. Vassallo, C. Farrugia, Z. Dobrosavljevic

Hibs kept their hopes of a play-off spot still alive as they beat Starlites to also get their revenge after they had lost 94-103 against the same opponents in the first round. A very important factor in Hibs' win was their dominance under the boards as they used well their height advantage.
The game had a very balanced start with both sides grabbing a series of baskets. Jacob Formosa (188-G-97) was quite 'on fire' in these initial moments for Starlites whilst Hibs had Spaniard Alvaro Lizaur immediately notching the first of his 38 personal points on the day.
Hibs started distancing themselves in the latter stages of the first quarter with an 11-4 run as Luke Farrugia (177-PG-97) and Fabrizio Mariani (205-C/F-83) were also precise in their shooting.
An 8-2 run immediately at the start of the second quarter continued to help Hibs extend their lead to 35-21. Even though Starlies replied with 9 consecutive points, Hibs still regained their composure with their three tall players doing most of the damage for a 52-39 lead.
This margin remained consistent for a good part of the third quarter but in the last minute Hibs had a six point run, through Adrian Micallef (190-F-79) and Lizaur. The latter made his fifth trey of the day early in the fourth quarter as his side opened a 20 point lead and ascertained their second league win with Nikola Stankovic helping Starlites for a better score line with a series of points in the final stages of the game.

Remaining matches
Wednesday 8th March: Floriana Cafe del Mar vs Hibs
Saturday 11th March: Gzira Gzira Athleta vs Starlites
Sunday 12th March: Hibs vs Bupa Luxol, Floriana Cafe del Mar vs Depiro

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