Hibernians 78
Starlites Gig 61

(22-21, 18-16, 14-19, 24-5)

Hibernians, coming from their Super Cup success a week earlier, hit their rivals Starlites with a strong, decisive final quarter showing to open their MBA Shield commitments on a positive note.

In fact, the last ten minutes resulted in a 24-5 partial scoreline for the Paolites including a 16-2 stretch in the final five minutes.

Hibs’ best scorers on the day, centre Ivan Demcesen and shooting guard Nikola Vasovic, immediately opened Hibs’ points tally. But Starlites managed to have a mid-first quarter marginal 11-9 lead with their import players Konnor Kulas and Jeremy Marseille taking most of the offensive responsibilities.

Hibs’ American import Chandler Rowe, with his first points, helped Hibs to regain the lead which then withered down to a single point, 22-21, by the end of the first rubber, after points from the young Felice Pace brothers, Alec and Ian.

The start of the second quarter saw Hibs, who had Swede William Ahlberg missing, register a 9-0 run. There were also buckets from David Bugeja and Isaac Bonett as the victors opened a double-digit lead which was preserved for six minutes.

It was only in the last part of the first half that Starlites managed to claw back into the game with an eight-point stretch.

The lead changed hands when play restarted after the break with Starlites’ Robert Bonnici grabbing a number of points for a 49-44 scoreline.

Neither side was very precise from the free-throw line in this match with 21 failed attempts from 42 total shots from the charity line. The Naxxar side fared the worst with a meagre four from 12 attempts against Hibs’ 17 from 30.

Hibs’ skipper Marko Matijevic helped his side to recover until a Matthew Scerri trey and a last-gasp long distance buzzer beater from Kulas, after a Hibs turnover following a time-out, put Starlites back in front, 56-54, with one quarter to go.

Demecesen and Anton Axiaq helped themselves to close-range buckets early in the fourth rubber as Hibs continued to dominate the rebounds at both ends.

With Starlites not able to reply, Hibs continued on their positive stretch and gradually  extended further on a double-digit lead to move towards an important win.

Hibs: P. Attard, D. Bugeja 10, K. Caruana, L. Farrugia, I. Bonett 7, N. Vasovic 19, A. Axiaq 10, M. Matijevic 6, M. Attard, C. Rowe 9, I. Demcesen 17.

Starlites: A. Felice Pace 6, R. Bonnici 14, I. Felice Pace 2, M. Fabri, M. Falzon, M. Scerri 8, R. Carabott 4, I. Kumric, K. Kulac 14, J. Marseille 13.

Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, T. Mantere.

Gżira Athleta 64
Luxol 59

(12-19, 21-20, 16-16, 15-4)

A mere five points separated these two sides at the end of this interesting encounter which had Luxol in the lead for practically all the game except the initial and final three minutes of play.

In fact, Luxol, under the play calling of Duncan Fenech, produced a hearty display and were very close to open their Shield commitments with a win.

Gżira’s imports Connell Crossland and Ian Theisen helped their side to a very early 6-2 lead but Luxol slowly started to get their shooting touches as Vukasin Jandric, Francesco Mifsud Bonnici and Keith Dimech moved the Violets to a 19-12 end-of-first quarter lead.

Crossland was again quick off the mark in the second quarter but two consecutive Jean Paul Schembri treys re-established Luxol’s advantage.

Serbs Milos Novakovic and Slavko Opojevlic had a trey each at the respective ends and half-time had six points separating the two teams, 39-33.

This margin did not change ten minutes later as the two sides equally shared a total of 32 points netted in the third quarter.

However, Luxol’s offensive machine dried up in the final rubber with just four free-throws scored whilst, on the contrary, Gżira Athleta’s scoring machine seemed better oiled with Crossland continuing to spur his side forward to definitely regain the lead.

Luxol, who had three players fouled out in the closing stages, did try a desperate late comeback being three points down in the last seconds but Nathan Xuereb’s close-range hoop ascertained Gżira’s win.

Gżira Athleta: C. Crossland 31, S. Pace 1, B. Zammit, S. Vincic,  L. Stefanovic, S. Galea, N. Xuereb 5, M. Gouder 6, M. Novakovic 5, I. Thiesen 16, E. Abela, R. Abela.

Luxol: J. Cefai, V. Jandric 13, E. Caruana Montaldo, L. Trapani, F. Mifsud Bonnici 7, JP Schembri 11, K. Dimech 18, I. Pace, S. Opojevliv 5, S. Cappello 5.

Referees: T. Mantere, Z. Dobro-savljevic, S. Jafilica.

Other results

Amateur Shield
Starlites vs Depiro - 48-83
Gżira Athleta vs Mellieħa - 50-86

Under 23 men
Starlites B vs Hibs - 55-91
Gzira Athleta vs Starlites A - 66-75
Luxol vs Depiro - 51-70

Next matches

Depiro vs Hibernians - 11.00
Starlites GiG vs Luxol - 16.15

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