By Jordan Witte and Claire Macuz
Gabby Bassi has staked her claim as one of the most valuable players in the Monday night Division A1 competition, with a dominant performance to lead the underdog Metro Revellers to a surprise win over second-place Allstars.
Bassi dragged the Revellers over the line with a 16/20 second-half shooting display, including 9/11 in the third quarter and 7/9 in a tense last quarter.
“I don’t know why, but I just didn’t get a double team,” Bassi said.
“They weren’t coming to me, so we were able to take advantage in the second half, me and [goal shooter] Heidi, and put some pressure on with our shooting.”
Bassi has been important as the Revellers make their charge towards the finals. Monday night’s win provides a huge boost to their campaign and their confidence, as the Allstars sit second on the ladder and have lost just two games all year.
“It’s nice to get a win against such a highly rated team,” said coach Claire Macuz, who didn’t play due to a back injury.
“I think we still have a chance to make finals, so to keep winning is a really good sign, especially with just seven players and no subs tonight.”
Metro started brightly, jumping to a 3-0 lead. Offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities were a focus for both Bassi and goal shooter Heidi Macuz, and the latter was able to secure a crucial early rebound to push the lead out to three goals.
Filling in for the Revellers, Maddy Agius dished out a pair of assists in the first quarter, with some excellent circle edge work leading to easy goals for Bassi.
The other star of the evening was English midcourter Beccy Lewis. The effervescent Lewis has been a tremendous find for the Revellers, with her constant pressure a trademark of her game style.
After a fantastic performance last week, Lewis picked up where she left off, with three assists and two intercepts in the second quarter. The Englishwoman played a lone hand as the Allstars took advantage of a hot shooting quarter to take a three-goal lead into the long break.
Metro has struggled to contain teams defensively so far this season, and with a three-goal deficit to wrestle back, Cassandra McEwen and Sarah Flanagan shouldered the lion’s share of the responsibility.
Coach Macuz implored the two defenders to lift, and lift they did, holding the Allstars to just 9 shot attempts for the quarter.
At the other end of the court, Bassi caught fire. While lacking in height, the diminutive utility has spent time in nearly every position on the court, but possesses the requisite intelligence and footwork to succeed as a goaler.
In an extraordinary 15 minutes, Bassi scored nine goals from 11 attempts, with every goal coming from an assist. Lewis continued her dominance, collecting three intercepts at crucial moments and turning defence into attack with pinpoint passing.
With the Revellers facing a win-or-go-home situation against the second-placed team with no substitutes, you would have been forgiven for writing them off.
After the Allstars’ goal shooter pushed the lead to two goals with the first of the quarter, Bassi peeled off three straight to re-take the lead for the Revellers for the first time since the second quarter.
Metro would not trail again.
Every time the Allstars tied the game, the Revellers responded.
The Allstars’ goal attack lost McEwen on a split. 25-25.
Bassi – ice coursing through her veins – converted on a pass from Ashleigh Agius. 26-25.
Another tying goal from the Allstars goal attack. This time, Macuz with the clutch answering goal. Then Lewis, a big-time interception, another Bassi finish, and the light at the end of the tunnel inching ever closer.
Fittingly, it was an assist from Macuz, converted by the indomitable Bassi that closed out the Allstars for good, with the Revellers saluting 31-28.
The win leaves the door ajar for the Revellers to steal fourth spot. With three games left in the regular season, they remain in win-or-go-home mode.
The Allstars will rue letting a win slip, but have arguably already sealed their spot in the finals.
Lineup: C. McEwen, S. Flanagan, A. Agius, M. Agius, B. Lewis, H. Macuz, G. Bassi
- Macuz: 5/15
- Bassi: 26/34
Votes: G. Bassi 3 B. Lewis 2 C. McEwen 1