Singapore’s hope of advancing to the final of the Netball Nations Cup hangs in the balance after suffering consecutive losses against Fiji (60-53) and Botswana (71-21) as they are now second from bottom in the six-team competition with just two points from their opening day 47-45 win against Ireland, and with two remaining matches to play.
The national netball team will face a youthful Singapore A team on Dec 7 before taking on Malaysia two days later. The placing and final match will be on Dec 10, Saturday. All matches will be played at the OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub. Botswana’s win against Singapore not only saw them extend their unbeaten run, but they are also the only team to maintain their perfect winning streak in the tournament.
Botswana dominated the game from start to finish with their aggressive play and physicality, pressuring their Singaporean opponents and restricting them to fewer than 10 goals in each quarter. Despite the hosts making several line-up changes throughout, they had no answers for Botswana.
“We have 12 players, so it gave opportunities for the other players to step in today and see those combinations out there and have that experience against tough competition. We kept trying things out there, unfortunately, we had a lot of turnovers. They’ve got long arms and we didn’t adapt to that when we were around the top of the circle and we were a little bit smaller. They kept fighting, it just didn’t show on the scoreboard,” said Singapore coach Annette Bishop, who opted to rest shooter and co-captain Toh Kai Wei.
“(Our chances of reaching the final) will be dependent on others’ games – Fiji came out and won comfortably today, Botswana scored the big one over us. We just have to keep playing, we still have two more games and regardless of that we just have to finish strong and ensure we are in the top four.”
In the opening game, Singapore netballers pulled off a gritty 47-45 comeback victory over Ireland. The two teams were tied at 13-13 in the first quarter, with Singapore leading by as many as five goals in the next quarter. But a series of unfortunate errors from the hosts allowed Ireland to narrow the gap and eventually edge ahead to lead the first half 26-25.
Both sides continued to press each other in the third quarter, and Ireland capitalised on shaky play from their opponents to hold a 38-34 advantage at the end of the quarter. Five consecutive goals near the end of the quarter saw the hosts overtake the lead 45-44 with three minutes of play left, as the crowd’s cheers got progressively louder each time the ball found the net.
Though Ireland pulled one back to equalise, Singapore remained steady to shoot two more goals before the final whistle sealed their win.
In the second match, hosts Singapore and Fiji both started off strong but the latter was the sharper of the two from the beginning. Trailing 11-15 at the end of the first quarter, Singapore fought to catch up and both sides continued to press each other. But a botched pass from Singapore at 24-27 proved costly – Fiji moved further ahead to lead 32-28 at half-time. Singapore was relentless in their attack and kept the pressure on their opponents.
Two goals from shooter Amandeep Kaur Chahal in the last three minutes of the third quarter saw Singapore lead 42-41, and the quarter ended with the score locked at 44-44. But Fiji put up an aggressive performance in the final quarter and, coupled with untimely mistakes from Singapore, recorded their first win of the tournament.
“It’s definitely disappointing as we were so close to getting a win, and it took us a lot of effort to draw the game in the third quarter. We did make a few mistakes in the last quarter, maybe there were nerves or anxiety and it got to us. So we need to know how to settle down, especially when we don’t have much time left, and make every pass count,” said Singapore centre Angelina Lim after their match against Fiji.