Gżira Athleta 90
Hibernians 73

(17-10, 24-17, 24-16, 25-30; Gżira lead series 2-0)

Gżira’s Peter Shoults (right) goes for the basket despite the marking of Alvaro Lizaur. Photo: Wally GaleaGżira’s Peter Shoults (right) goes for the basket despite the marking of Alvaro Lizaur. Photo: Wally Galea

The first game in the series went down to the wire with Gżira Athleta finally snatching a marginal two-point win after an encounter that could have swayed either end.

Fast forward three days and game two was played. This time the Maroons opened a 2-0 series lead, putting immense pressure now on the reigning champions Hibernians as the latter need to win Game Three tomorrow to keep their hopes alive in the best of five series.

Gżira opened a substantial first-half lead which they then extended in the second part of the game.

The winners paraded again American Kwame Thompson who returned to their fold for the first time since the start of the year and joined the other elements of their ‘foreign legion’.

On the other hand, Hibs had skipper Marko Matijevic missing for this second game in the series.

The game had a slow start with the score tied at 6-6 midway in the first quarter with Luca Tardito neutralising Gżira Athleta’s first hoops from Julio Guity and Vincent Pace.

Here, Athleta registered their first positive stretch with an 11-2 run with seven points coming off Connell Crossland.

At the start of the second quarter, Sasa Dimitrijevic’s side had eight consecutive points, including a Nathan Xuereb trey, to open a double-digit 25-10 lead.

Here, Hibs had their best moment in this game as further hoops from an on-form Tardito and pivot Ivan Demcesen brought the margin between both teams momentarily back down to a single digit,

However, Pace became the go-to player for Athleta as he potted 12 back-to-back points to steer his side to a 41-27 half-time lead.

Hibs reaction after the break did not materialise and even if they had further points from Tardito and later Chad Patus, it was Gżira who managed to extend further their advantage mainly through Pace and Crossland while Matthew Gouder grabbed five consecutive points midway in the third quarter.

With ten minutes to go there were 22 points separating the two finalists.

Tardito did start off the last rubber with some fine moves but in came Kwame Thompson for Gżira Athleta. The American helped himself to a dozen points in a few minutes to ascertain the win for Gżira Athleta with both sides then introducing a number of bench players in the final minutes.

Gżira Athleta: N. Vasovic, C. Crossland 22, P. Shoults 2, L. Stefanovic, A. Perunicic, N. Xuereb 3, M. Gouder 9, K. Thompswon 12, V. Pace 29, J. Guity 13.

Hibs: R. Vella 3, P. Attard, K. Sultana, L. Farrugia, M. Formosa, I. Bonett 3, L. Tardito 37, A. Axiaq 3, A. Lizaur 11, I. Demcesen 4, C. Cuschieri Patus 12.

Referees: B. Vassallo, T. Mantere, K. Dworniczak.

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