Malta Sports Journalists Super Cup Men
Gzira Athleta 55 Falken Cynergi Virtus 63
(19-9, 14-16, 13-19, 9-19)
Fresh from their Independence Cup victory over Floriana, the champions made it two in a row. They did this despite the fact that just two days ago they were informed that they couldn't make use of their foreigners, due to a technicality in their registration. Both sides made changes in their line ups, from their previous competition games. Virtus had no foreigners, but played David Camilleri for the first time, since since transfer from Floriana, as he recovered from injury, and Miguel Falzon was also roped in. Athleta were a completely changed outfit. Back in the fold were Michael Naudi and Omar Said, and Roderick Vella returned from abroad. Ivan Buldakov was back from injury, but Billy Zammit was still unavailable.
The game could be described as David Bugeja's match, as he kept his side, Virtus, in the hunt, when Athleta threatened to run away with the match, in the first session and part of the second period. When the champions got close again Athleta became worried, with fast opponents facing them, and they had to give way against eager adversaries, who upset their style of play, and obtained their second success of the season.
Athleta began well enough, as Vella put in a brace of triples, for an early lead. Bugeja's insistence, and his opening trey, had Virtus back, but Athleta ended the session with a 7-0 run, mainly from Adrian Micallef, and a double figure advantage. In the next session three more hoops had Athleta on a solid lead, but then came the champions' triples, two from Bugeja and another by Shawn Pace. Athleta still held a good advantage, but Robert Bonnici sank a further Virtus trey. Free throws enabled Athleta to stretch their lead, to a 33-25 score, at the interval.
After the break Virtus began in earnest. An 8-2 run had them within a hoop of their opponents. Athleta struck back, with a 7-2 run of their ownbut Virtus had renewed courage, and a good finish to the period had them again just a hoop away, on a 44-46 score. The last quarter was Athleta's downfall. A 10-2 Virtus run, with with triples by Bugeja and Camilleri, pushed them in front, for the first time. Athleta tried to hit back, but the champions' were still going in, as Camilleri nailed two more, with another by Pace. Virtus were home and dry, as Athleta converted three free throws till the end of the encounter.
It was Virtus' first ever success in the Super Cup, in their first ever final of this competition, ending an impressive six successive victories from Athleta.
Bugeja ended with 30 points and Camilleri made 13 points for Virtus. Athleta had Naudi with 18 points and Micallef netted 13 more.
After the match the Sports Journalists' vice president, Mario Bonnici, presented the winning trophy to the Virtus skipper, Peter Shoults, as he collected his side's second honour in a fortnight.
Athleta: M. Naudi 18, R. Vella 8, J. Wait , M. Montague 8, L. Stefanovic, I. Buldakov , O. Said 3, A. Micallef 13, S. Vincic , N. Lubrano 5, M. Gauci Montaldo
Virtus: S. Pace 6, D. Bugeja 30, R. Bonnici7 , D. Camilleri 13, S. Bonnici , M. Falzon, A. Felice Pace 2, A. Schembri , F. Bartolo 2, P. Shoults 3, T. Grech
Referees: B. Vassallo, G. Barbara, A. Carbonaro
Malta Sports Journalists Super Cup Women
Gzira Athleta 53 Caffe Moak Luxol 69
(11-17, 11-22, 10-15, 21-15)
Luxol had already won this honour for the last four seasons, and they added on a fifth one, with their victory over Athleta. This made it seven successes for the Violets, in the Super Cup. They had just one change, from their last match, the lost Independence Cup final, against Hibernians. Mandi Mercieca was abroad, with her place taken by Nicole Agius.This time they made no mistake, as they went ahead from the start, and never lost their advantage throughout the match. Athleta included Stephanie Pisani vice Julia Schembri and Maria Debono.
The champions started with a couple of hoops, as Athleta answered with a Leanne Sciberras triple. Sarah pace promptly netted a trey for Luxol, as they extended their lead. Athleta were back, on level terms, with Denise Said Hollier points, but a late 8-2 run had the Violets with a better advantage, as Paula Ellul struck for Luxol. In the second session Athleta drew nearer again, with antoinette Borg points. Luxol made a 7-0 run, with a Steffi DeMartino trey, with Athleta reducing their deficit for a while. Again, late points for the champions, in an 11-2 run, put them in a comfortable position. At the interval the champions were enjoying a solid 39-22 advantage.
After the break DeMartino helped her side to a better lead yet, . Athleta stopped their opponents for a while, with a 7-2 run, with Joselle Borg Cardona closing down the period with a brace of free throws, for a heavy 54-32 Luxol advantage. The last quarter had Pace sinking a second triple for Luxol, in an opening 9-4 run. Said Hollier also netetd a trey for Athleta, her side's efforts were for a lost cause, even though they hit back well in the last stages of the match, netting a 10-0 run, before Beverlee zammit came up with a triple and hoop for the champions. Sharon Vella made the alst two hoops for Athleta.
DeMartino finished with 18 points and Pace netted 16 points for Luxol. Said Hollier made 14 points, with Borg on 13 points, for Athleta.
At the end of the match the Sports Journalists' vice president, mario Bonnici, presented the Luxol player, Sarah Pace, with the winning trophy.
Athleta: K. Busuttil 10, S. Pisani , L. Sciberras 7, D. Said Hollier 14, A. Borg 13, R. Sciberras , S. Vella 7, E. Pace , C. Mifsud 2
Luxol: S. Pace 16, B. Zammit 10, N. Agius , J. Borg Cardona 6, C. Sollami, S. DeMartino 18, K. Portelli , S. Abela 7, P. Ellul 10, G. Costa 2, M. Darmanin, L. Serge
Referees: G. Barbara, E. Mangani, J. Mangani
(taken from the game report printed on the Malta Independent by Willie Vassallo / photos from the Times of Malta and Facebook