Luxol fend off Starlites fightback

BUPA Luxol booked their place in the St James Hospital Shield after defeating Starlites. Photo: Jonathan Borg

BUPA Luxol booked their place in the St James Hospital Shield after defeating Starlites. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Starlites GIG   67  

BUPA Luxol    71

(14-13, 10-15, 15-21, 28-22)

BUPA Luxol booked their place in the St James Hospital Shield after overcoming Starlites in an entertaining encounter on Sunday.

Three positive spurts throughout the game were influential for BUPA Luxol to start taking momentary control of the match and even opened what seemed to be a significant 15-point lead, 62-47, with five minutes to go.

However a Starlites’ timeout helped them to get back in the reckoning and inspired by a high-scoring Mitchell Brewe they force themselves back into the game, coming just one basket away from their opponents.

But Luxol kept their poise and they sealed their win courtesy of two late free-throws from their naturalised guard Nick Vasovic to set up a final showdown with Hibernians on Sunday.

“We were coming from two really bad games but today we still managed to get the win even though we played horribly at times,” Luxol’s William Ahlberg said.

“Now we need everyone back on track after having a few players missing due to injury.”

Ahlberg opened the points tally for this side followed by a trey from Keith Dimech.

An eight point spread through Brewe and forward Robert Bonnici helped Starlites end the first quarter just a point behind, 14-13.

“‘It was a slow game with not many fast breaks and this worked more in Luxol’s favour as we normally like to play a fast game,” Bonnici said.

“I believe that this game was just a matter of who shot with the best percentage as both teams played good defence.”

Luxol in fact did shoot with some more precision from the charity line and in the two-point area and were superior in the defensive boards.

A 12-0 mid quarter run, through Ahlberg, more close range hoops from Kyle Meyer and five points from Jean Paul Schembri helped Luxol overturn the score and change ends 28-24 ahead.

Luxol kept their focus in the second half as they grabbed the first four hoops to open a double digit lead which they maintained through the same quarter despite Starlites GIG’s efforts.

Luxol’s lead was extended further to 62-47 after they had another good run, 9-0 with initial points from Stefan Cappello, and seemed home and dry.

But Brewe came to the fore for Starlites and aided by long distance shots from Shaun Pace and Alec Felice Pace, the game reopened totally with just a basket separating the two sides.

However the late Vasovic free throws ascertained the win and left Starlites empty handed.

“Overall it was a decent performance from our end yet we had patches which cost us dearly where we failed to properly execute and run in transition and that cost us dearly,” said Starlites guard Sean Borg.

“We showed good fighting spirit in the dying moments of the game to make it a one-possession match, but unfortunately for us, Luxol are not easily rattled and their overall experience and poise got them the well-deserved victory.”

On his part, Ahlberg said that he was looking forward to Sunday’s final.

“We are all very excited to play against Hibs. Hopefully we can make up for the defeat we suffered at their hands recently.”

Starlites: S. Pace 3, R. Bonnici 13, A. Schembri, S. Borg, M. Falzon, A. Felice Pace 5, R. Carabott 3, O. Psaila, N. Andrejevic 2, J. Wait, M. Brewe 41.

Luxol:  M. Sjoberg,  N. Vasovic 7,  JP Schembri 10, K. Dimech 15, W. Ahlberg 15, A. Micallef Trigona,  K. Meyer 15,  S. Cappello 9.

Referees:  G. Barbara, Z. Dobrosavljevic, T. Mantere.

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