Gżira Athleta 81
BUPA Luxol 84
(22-31, 15-19, 23-12, 21-22)
BUPA Luxol made sure of their place in the final after a hard-fought win in the third game in the series played on Sunday.
As happened in Game 2 of the series, which Luxol won 85-77, this match could have gone either way.
Luxol seemed well on their way when opening a maximum 20-point cushion in the first half and even a 62-46 lead midway in the third quarter. However Athleta staged a remarkable comeback and late in the fourth quarter also led 76-73.
The game set off with Pierce Cumpstone and Samuel Deguara very much in the picture for Luxol as Michael Naudi and Morakinyo Williams were sharp on the other end.
Luxol then registered a 19-3 run with treys also from William Ahlberg and CJ Cordina and eight further points, shortly afterwards, helped Luxol extend their advantage to 48-28.
Although Josiah Whitehead tried to lift Athleta with a series of mid-range hoops, Luxol still managed to hold on to their lead for 62-46 midway through the third quarter.
Then Athleta had their best moment and stunned their opponents with a 14-0 run. With just a basket now separating the two sides, all was set for a frantic last quarter.
Three pointers from Ahlberg and Schembri helped Luxol open a five-point lead but Athleta hit back with eight consecutive points from Naudi and Whitehead.
Luxol forged again ahead with a brace of baskets from Cumpstone and Deguara but the lead continued to change hands. At the last minute, Luxol led 82-81.
Two missed free-throws and a quick shot attempt did not help Athleta as Ahlberg then potted two crucial free-throws.
Athleta held possession but their attempt for a last-ditch long distance shot failed.
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.
Cynergi Depiro 68
(16-17, 8-17, 17-9, 27-17)
This third game in the series was decided in the last two minutes when, with the score at 57-57, Depiro kept hold of their nerves but Floriana looked tense and unable to score in three consecutive offensive plays.
This means Floriana, who won the midweek Game 2 handsomely – 77-44 – start the next tie in the series with added pressure tomorrow evening as only a win can keep them in the series.
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 DJ Mason more incisive but Floriana reacted quickly with a six-point run for 43-32.
Although having Kurt Xuereb ejected for dissent, Depiro did not fall behind and managed to crawl back to just a point away, 45-46, early in the last quarter.
Nikola Vasovic and Anton Axiaq kept Floriana in the lead but a David Bugeja trey put Depiro back in contention.
Bugeja and Andrew Aquilina went to the free-throw 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 coach John Tabone also sent off in the closing seconds.
Depiro: N. Grech, D. Bugeja 20, R. Bonnici 12, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 5, DJ 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.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us