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 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.
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: 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.
Bank of Valletta 2017 Finals Series Game 1 BUPA Luxol 80 Floriana MCP Car Parks 72 (16-18, 24-13, 20-15, 20-26) Luxol: CJ Cordina, M. Mercieca, M. Sjoberg, J. Maistre , JP Schembri 11, K. Dimech 7, W. Ahlberg 12, P. Cumpstone 16, S. Deguara 28, S. Cappello 6 Floriana: C. Patus 34, D. Schembri 11, S. Borg, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 18, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 2, A. Micallef 5, N. Andrejevic Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, I. Simic BUPA Luxol continued on their play-offs winning streak by r... [read more]
Bank of Valletta 2017 Finals Series
BUPA Luxol 80 Floriana MCP Car Parks 72 (16-18, 24-13, 20-15, 20-26) Luxol: CJ Cordina, M. Mercieca, M. Sjoberg, J. Maistre , JP Schembri 11, K. Dimech 7, W. Ahlberg 12, P. Cumpstone 16, S. Deguara 28, S. Cappello 6 Floriana: C. Patus 34, D. Schembri 11, S. Borg, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 18, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 2, A. Micallef 5, N. Andrejevic Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol continued on their play-offs winning streak by registering a win against Floriana in the first game of the 2017 BOV Finals.
The greens did try to offer a stern challenge and had their good moments in the game, although Luxol managed to open a considerable double digit lead in the third quarter, only for Floriana to pull up their socks once again and managing to come quite close.
The finals got off with sharp long distance shooting from Luxol as four different players managed to respectively score early from downtown. In fact, import player Pierce Cumpstone (203-F-94, college: Stonehill), local foreigner William Ahlberg (91) and local youngsters Jean-Paul Schembri (182-G-92) and Keith Dimech (178-F-00) were all precise from behind the 6.75 metre arc.
However Floriana were not overawed and were also notching up their early points led by Canadian Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) who had eight personal points, including two treys. Shorly afterwards Floriana also managed to take the lead after a Dirk Schembri (193-F-85) close range basket and this marginal lead was maintained till the end of the first quarter, 18-16.
Luxol started winning the defensive boards in the second quarter and had their towering pivot Samuel Deguara (223-C-91) more in the action and they overturned the score with a 13-2 run. Despite Floriana's treys from Patus and Nikola Vasovic (180-PG-92), who both played all throughout the match, there was still a nine point margin between the two finalists at the interval, 40-31.
Luxol maintained their tempo when play resumed and led by their trio Cumpstone, Deguara and Ahlberg, who all were on the court for the whole 40 minutes of playing time, they had another positive run, this time 14-2, to open a hefty plus twenty lead, 54-33.
Floriana did not throw in the towel and they retorted with nine consecutive points, managing also to bring down some offensive rebounds and the margin came down to 60-46 at the end of the third quarter.
The last quarter produced the most points of the lot. Floriana put in a good effort to try to claw back into the game and were momentarily managing to find their way to the opponents' basket and an 11-2 mid-quarter run moved the greens closer to their adversaries. However Luxol did not let the game slip away and obtained some important hoops and controlled the final moments of the game.
Game 2 of this best-of-five Finals series will be played tomorrow at 7.30pm.
Bank of Valletta Men Semi-Final Series Game 5 Cynergi Depiro 62 Floriana MCP Car Parks 63 (17-19, 17-18, 10-9, 18-17) Depiro: N. Grech, D. Bugeja 19, R. Bonnici 5, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 7, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell) 18, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, S. Sammut, K. Xuereb 8, M. Borg, D. Scafidi 5 Floriana: C. Patus 23, D. Schembri 10, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 13, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 13, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic 2 Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, I. Simic This semi-fina... [read more]
Bank of Valletta Men Semi-Final Series Game 5
Cynergi Depiro 62 Floriana MCP Car Parks 63 (17-19, 17-18, 10-9, 18-17) Depiro: N. Grech, D. Bugeja 19, R. Bonnici 5, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 7, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell) 18, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, S. Sammut, K. Xuereb 8, M. Borg, D. Scafidi 5 Floriana: C. Patus 23, D. Schembri 10, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 13, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 13, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic 2 Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, I. Simic
This semi-final series went down to the wire as the crucial fifth game was needed to determine the second 2017 BOV league finalist.
The game was practically a tit-for-tat affair with both sides changing leads numerous times. Floriana were the better scoring team off the tip-off as Anton Axiaq (190-C-91) and Nikola Vasovic (180-PG-92) combined for an early 6-2 lead.
However Depiro, who had to do without centre Alvaro Quiros, found their mark with three long distance shots from Andrew Aquilina, Dominic Scafidi (196-F) and David Bugeja (180-SG-92) respectively to pounce in the lead for the first time.
Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) came to Floriana's rescue at this stage with ten consecutive points, including two treys although Depiro were still at par with D.J. Mason netting from close range.
More Mason points helped Depiro take an early second quarter lead at 22-19 only for the greens to retort with an 8-2 run in the mid-part of the same quarter with points also from Dirk Schembri (193-F-85) and Nikola Andrejevic (165-G-95) for a 30-26 score.
In the last minute before the interval Kurt Xuereb had two quick hoops for Depiro to make it again a one-point game.
The third quarter was another balanced affair even if it was the lowest scoring of the lot. Robert Bonnici's and Mason's treys for Depiro were neutralized at the other end through Axiaq and Schembri, although another Bonnici hoop made it a 42-42 rubber after that Vasovic had converted a single free throw after a bench technical foul against Depiro.
Depiro had a positive streak at the start of the last quarter after Aquilina immediately gave them the lead after an early trey and then two consecutive shots from downtown from Bugeja placed them 55-51 ahead forcing Floriana to call a time-out with five minutes to go.
When play resumed Floriana reacted and had two Schembri close range hoops.
Everything was set for the final decisive minutes as the lead alternated a number of times. Patus overturned, albeit momentarily, the score in the greens' favour but two minutes later Aquilina had one free throw from two and helped Depiro go 60-58 in the lead with slightly more than one minute to go.
Patus had two foul-bonus free throws and then converted a free throw off a technical foul called against Mason in the last minute, with the latter also having to leave the court on five fouls.
Depiro quickly replied and had the lead, 62-61, after a Bugeja hoop but at the other end, Patus was fouled and did not miss the resultant two free throws.
Depiro had the last possession coming out of a time-out but Bugeja missed the mark from mid range and Scafidi not being able to convert quickly off the resultant rebound in the last second amidst protests from the Depiro clan allegedly claiming a foul on the same American player.
Thus the final buzzer had Floriana with a minimal one point win and making their way to the finals where they will face BUPA Luxol who had, earlier in the month, ousted Gzira Athleta in the other semi-final. The BOV Men final series will commence on Saturday and will also be decided on a best-of-five format.
Bank of Valletta Division 1 Men Semi-Final Series Game 2 Floriana MCP Car Parks 77 Cynergi Depiro 44 (16-16, 14-9, 24-12, 23-7) Floriana: C. Patus 26, S. Pace 15, S. Borg 4, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 16, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 14, N. Andrejevic Depiro: S. Zammit, D. Bugeja 2, R. Bonnici 7, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 9, D.J. Mason(198-F-94, college: Campbell) 14, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 4, K. Xuereb 6, M. Borg , D. Scafidi 2 Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, C. Farrugia Floriana produ... [read more]
Bank of Valletta Division 1 Men Semi-Final Series
Floriana MCP Car Parks 77 Cynergi Depiro 44 (16-16, 14-9, 24-12, 23-7) Floriana: C. Patus 26, S. Pace 15, S. Borg 4, D. Agius, N. Vasovic 16, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 14, N. Andrejevic Depiro: S. Zammit, D. Bugeja 2, R. Bonnici 7, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 9, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell) 14, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 4, K. Xuereb 6, M. Borg , D. Scafidi 2 Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, C. Farrugia
Floriana produced a fine performance and totally dominated the latter part of the second half of game two in the series. In fact, Cynergi Depiro were still close till the interval with only a 5-point margin between the two sides and even 36-33 six minutes into the third quarter but a decisive 23-4 run in the next six minutes of play proved to be the killer blow in this game. Both teams were coming from a keenly contested opening game in the series which was decided in Depiro's favour with a last second trey. The game set off with a series of long distance shots at both ends. Shawn Pace (175-SG-90) had three for the greens after an initial trey from Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) but Depiro also had treys from Andrew Aquilina (185-G-89) and Kurt Xuereb (175-PG-97) for a tied score 16-a-side after the first quarter. Three Anton Axiaq (190-C-91) hoops helped the greens open a slender lead which was then maintained with Patus baskets late in the half. The latter also started the important run for the greens in the third quarter as he led Floriana to a 59-37 lead with eight minutes to go. Depiro tried to react but they were further hit with another 11-0 run which totally closed the game.
Bupa Luxol 85 Gzira Athleta 77 (22-16, 20-23, 21-26, 22-22) Luxol: CJ Cordina 6, M. Mercieca, J. Maistre, JP Schembri 8, K. Dimech 2, W. Ahlberg 21, P. Cumpstone 17, S. Deguara 31, S. Cappello Gzira Athleta: M. Naudi 18, R. Vella 12, D. Camilleri 11, M. Williams 10, P. Shoults 13, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit 3, L. Stefanovic, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 10 Referees: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol managed to open a two game lead with a strong closing in the game's final three minutes as they took the lead in these decisive moments. In fact, this was a very balanced game with Gzira Athleta enjoying the lead for many minutes in the second half. Samuel Deguara (223-C-91) immediately made his presence felt in the game and his close range hoops put Luxol ahead. Gzira Athleta did tie the score momentarily at 13-13 after a Billy Zammit (160-PG-90) trey but Luxol responded resolutely and had a 28-19 lead after a Deguara three point play. However Gzira Athleta were eager to fight back and an 8-0 run had them back well in contention and later treys from Peter Shoults (168-G-85) and Roderick Vella (180-PG-85) even pipped them 35-33 infront.
Luxol's reply was a 9-0 run including hoops from Pierce Cumpstone (203-F-94, college: Stonehill) and Jean Paul Schembri but Michael Naudi's brace of baskets led to a 42-39 scoreline at the interval. David Camilleri (SG) and Morakinyo Williams (213-C-88, college: Citadel, agency: Interperformances) were precise when play resumed and Gzira Athleta went ahead and till the end of the third quarter we had a tit-for-tat between these two rival teams. This continued even in the first part of the last quarter up to Williams' hoop, three minutes from the end, had Gzira Athleta 77-76 in the lead. From then on, Gzira Athleta hit a dearth of baskets whilst Luxol patiently closed off the game with William Ahlberg (91) getting most of the decisive closing 9-0 run
Cynergi Depiro 63 Floriana MCP Car Parks 60 (16-17, 8-17, 17-9, 27-17) Depiro: N. Grech , D. Bugeja 20, R. Bonnici 12, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 5, D.J. Mason 27, T. Zammit, M. Mallia, A. Quiros 2, K. Xuereb 2, M. Borg, D. Scafidi Floriana: C. Patus 21, S. Pace 6, S. Borg 4, N. Vasovic 16, C. Calleja 4, A. Axiaq 9, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic Referees: G. Barbara, I. Simic, I. Marjanovic
This third game in the series was decided in the last two minutes when, with the score at 57-57, Cynergi Depiro managed to keep their calm in this decisive moment, even if missing some free throws, whilst Floriana could not score in three consecutive offensive plays. This means that the pressure will now all be on Floriana for game 4 scheduled to be played tomorrow evening as only a win can keep them in the series. The game was interesting, even if at times nervous, with Floriana having most of the lead, with a maximum of twelve, 34-22, up till the last minutes. Six points from Chad Patus helped Floriana open the first relevant lead, 17-12, after eight minutes. Five minutes later, an 8-0 run through Patus, Anton Axiaq and Shawn Pace, extended the greens' lead to 31-20. Pace then had to leave the game early due to an injury. Depiro opened strongly in the second half with D.J. Mason more incisive than in the pervious game but Floriana reacted quickly with a six point run for 43-32 and Depiro Although having Kurt Xuereb ejected for dissent, Depiro did not fall further behind and managed to crawl back to just a point away 45-46 early in the last quarter. Nikola Vasovic (180-PG-92) and Anton Axiaq kept Floriana in the lead but a David Bugeja (180-SG-92) trey put Depiro back in contention. The same player and Andrew Aquilina went to the charity line a number of times in the last two minutes as Floriana tried eagerly to stop the clock to regain possession after they were missing their shooting attempts. The free throw points helped Depiro increase their lead with Floriana having their coach Tabone also sent off in the closing seconds.
Gzira Athleta 81 Bupa Luxol 84 (22-31, 15-19, 23-12, 21-22) Athleta: M. Naudi 20, R. Vella 16, D. Camilleri 2, M. Williams 6, P. Shoults 10, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit, L. Stefanovic, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 27 Luxol: CJ Cordina 20, M. Mercieca, D. Meli, J. Maistre Melillo, JP Schembri 6, K. Dimech 2, W. Ahlberg 15, P. Cumpstone 13, S. Deguara 28, S. Cappello Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol booked their way to the 2017 Finals after a hard fought win in the third game in the series. This game could have gone either way although Luxol seemed to be well int he driving seat when they had a maximum 20-point lead in the first half and even a 62-46 lead midway in the third quarter. However Gzira Athleta made a remarkable comeback with a 14 point run till the end of the third quarter and even, later in the fourth, enjoyed a small lead 76-73.
The game set off in a balanced way with Pierce Cumpstone and Samuel Deguara incisive for Luxol whilst Michael Naudi and Morakinyo Williams were sharp on the other end for 19-18 for the violets. The latter had a good spurt and registered a 19-3 run in the following four minutes of play, with treys also from William Ahlberg and CJ Cordina. A further eight consecutive points, shortly afterwards, helped Luxol extend their lead to 48-28. Although Josiah Whitehead tried to inspire Gzira Athleta with a series of mid range hoops, Luxol still managed to hold on to their lead for 62-46 in the sixth minute of the third quarter. Athleta's best moment came in the remaining minutes of the same quarter when they stunned their rivals with a 14-0 run, led by Michael Naudi. With just a basket separating the two sides, all was set for an interesting last quarter and this did not disappoint as the lead changed hands a number of times. Three pointers from Ahlberg and Schembri helped Luxol open a momentary 5-point lead but Gzira Athleta hit back with eight consectuive points from Nuadi and Whitehead. Luxol forged again ahead with a brace of baskets from Cumpstone and Deguara but the lead changed hands again for 79-77 for Athleta. Cordina hit the maroons with a trey followed by a fast break transition hoop but Naudi kept Gzira Athleta's hopes high for 82-81 in the last minute. Two missed free throws and a quick shot attempt did not help Gzira Athleta as Ahlberg then notched two important late free throws with just seconds to go and Gzira Athleta then too hurriedly attempting a last ditch long distance shot which did not find the mark so that Luxol closed off the series.
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