Luxol’s Sarah Pace was named as the MVP of the series. Photo: Wally GaleaLuxol’s Sarah Pace was named as the MVP of the series. Photo: Wally Galea

Gzira Athleta 53
Caffe Moak Luxol 70

(11-17, 17-18, 7-15,18-20)

Caffe Moak Luxol maintained their stranglehold in the women’s basketball league when they beat Gżira Athleta in game five of the play-off final and win the series 3-2 on Monday.

For Luxol this was their fourth successive league triumph and their 13th in the club’s history.

Similar to what happened in the first four games of the series, the ‘white jinx’ struck again as the team wearing white once again ended on the losing side.

Perhaps the most crucial phase of the game arrived late in the first half when Luxol hit their opponents with a 7-0 run after which they opened a double digit advantage, 33-23.

Gżira Athleta tried to put themselves back in the game but their efforts were dented by their lack of consistency in their offensive ploys.

Athleta’s solitary lead in the game came in the opening seconds after a Christina Grima trey.

But Luxol soon responded with seven consecutive points from Stephanie De Martino and Cristina Curmi and a three-pointer from Sarah Pace, who was voted the finals series’ MVP.

At this stage, coach Ruth Spiteri had to call an early Athleta time-out. The latter did have two Amelia Simmons distance shots but similar efforts from Pace and Paula Ellul at the other end, had Luxol closing the first quarter 17-11 ahead, even if these were the last treys for the Violets in the game.

Although Ellul helped Luxol increase their lead momentarily to 22-13 initially in the second quarter, Gżira Athleta were still much in the picture and treys from Antoinette Borg and Milica Stefanovic made it a mere three-point game half way in the quarter.

However Luxol were then superior in the next four minutes as they managed to open a double digit lead, 33-23.

This margin remained consistent for the next ten minutes of regular play, even after the interval, as they had their import player Attirah Munir notching a handful of hoops to counter Athleta’s points coming mainly from Grima and Simmons.

Further Munir hoops assisted Luxol to a 17-point lead, 52-35, early in the last quarter as Gżira Athleta were frantically trying to find their mark but some players looked in awe of the final game and shooting, especially from the charity line, was not efficient.

On the other hand, Luxol coach Santino Coppa once again made use of just six players from his squad but these looked more experienced to handle this decisive game than their opponents.

With Grima continuing to be closely marked by Ellul, Athleta had further three-point shots from Simmons and a brace of hoops from Leanne Sciberras.

Luxol kept their calm from the free-throw line scoring 14 out of 16 such shots in the last quarter, with Pace grabbing ten of these, thus sealing their league triumph.

Michael Galea, Chief Officer Business Development MAPFRE MSV Life, and MBA president Paul Sultana presented the trophy and medals to the Luxol squad.

Gżira Athleta: M. Stefanovic 7, C. Grima 10, B. Zammit, L. Sciberras 4, A. Simmons 22, D. Said Hollier 2, A. Borg 8, J. Schembri, S. Vella, C. Mifsud.

Luxol: S. Pace 16, M. Mercieca 9, A. Munir 12, I. Baena Medina, S. DeMartino 13, K. Portelli, C. Sollami, P. Ellul 10, L. Caruana Montaldo,  C. Curmi 10.

Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara and E. Mangani.

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