STARLITES GIG 57
(11-9, 8-8, 14-11, 18-23; 6-12)
The 2019 league crown will only be presented after the decisive game five as the finals series is tied at two-all after Hibernians once again managed to overturn a Starlites lead in the same finals series, this time with the fourth tie going even into overtime.
The fifth game will now be played on Sunday at 2.30pm and one expects another fine, rowdy crowd, supporting both the respective finalists, as present for game four.
Similar to the rest of the series so far, the game set off with points quite scarce at both ends.
Hibs took an early 9-3 lead off two hoops from Amelia Simmons, a trey from Samantha Brincat and an initial hoop from Elena Cassar.
Starlites shot back with an 8-0 run by the end of the first quarter with Kristy Galea notching two long-distance shots following Maria Bonett’s first five Starlites’ points in the game.
With the Naxxar side grabbing a solitary basket in the first half of the second period, Hibs once again nosed marginally ahead at 17-13 but there was, once again, a reaction from David Baudot’s Starlites. A six-point stretch had them leading 19-17 at half-time, a very low score but reflecting fully the nervousness on court.
Despite Hibs opened the second half with a Leanne Duncan trey and a Brincat hoop, it was Starlites who had their best patch in the game with a 10-2 run with Patricia Arguello and Josephine Grima contributing also to the points tally for a 29-22 advantage.
Hibs were quick, after a time-out, to claw back into the game although a Christina Curmi three-pointer offered some fresh breathing space for Starlites with ten minutes to go.
By three minutes into the last quarter Hibs had managed to again overturn the score with an 8-0 run including five Simmons points and the rest from Sophie Abela.
A few minutes after, following triples from Galea and Arguello for Starlites, an Emma Micallef trey kept Hibs 41-39 ahead.
Here Starlites seemed to have made a bold step towards
their first ever league title when they scored an 8-0 run with an Arguello four-point play and hoops from Curmi and Giocelis Reynoso to lead 47-41.
With time running out Hibs forced hard for a recovery with Brincat and Simmons helping to close the gap.
A last-minute Grima hoop placed Starlites three points ahead but here Abela came to Hibs’ definite rescue with a three pointer that sent the game to overtime.
Brincat set Hibs off with five back to back points in the five-minute overtime period. Starlites were now under time pressure and they tried to regain the lost ground but Simmons neutralized the points off Arguello and Bonett.
With seconds to go Duncan sank in a set of free throws which fully ascertained Hibs’ win and sent the series into a decider on Sunday.
STARLITES: M. Zammit Cordina, K. Galea 14, M. Riolo, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett 9, G. Reynoso 8, C. Curmi 5, J. Grima 6, P. Arguello 15, H. Acreman, S. Davies, A. Lupo.
HIBS: E. Micallef 3, E. Cassar 9, K. Calleja, S. Brincat 19, I. Agius, J. Abela, S. Abela 8, A. Simmons 17, N. Farrugia, H. Al Tumi, K. Caruana, L. Duncan 7.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, D. Torok, I. Simic.
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