Singapore fail to qualify for Nations Cup final
It was always going to be a tight match.
After all, their rankings are as close as they can be - Zambia in 16th and Singapore in 17th.
And it could have gone Singapore's way, if the hosts had kept up the momentum after having taken a two-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
But, try as they did, Singapore could not hang on to the lead against the unbeaten Zambia, who showed better composure.
So Singapore lost 50-45 in the Mission Foods Nations Cup at the OCBC Arena, leaving the Africans to take on Papua New Guinea in today's final.
"I told the girls to go forward because the ball was just not going into the goal shooting area," said Charles Zulu, head coach for Zambia.
"If they kept making errors in the mid-court, they would not be able to push the ball forward and get the goals needed.
"We will face PNG tomorrow, and they are a good team that are excellent in attack, but we'll just have to see how they work their defence and work on it from there."
Singapore raced to a three-point lead in the first quarter, with Pamela Liew scoring the opener.
Zambia responded immediately and levelled the score by the five-minute mark, and eventually ending the first quarter 12-9 ahead.
Shooter Charmaine Soh went on to score 11 out of 13 points in the second quarter to give Singapore a 22-21 lead.
With national coach Ruth Aitken deciding to field Mei Ling, Parveen Nair and veterans Nurul Baizura and Vanessa Lee, Singapore enjoyed a 36-34 third-quarter lead with captain Lee playing a leading role.
But the girls from Zambia returned for the final quarter a changed side.
They broke through the Singapore defence with ease to eventually take the match 50-45.
Singapore will take on 19th-ranked Botswana in the third-placing match.
Gunning for a repeat of last year's result, the New Zealander Aiken said: "We've to learn from our mistakes and get a good start. We sort of played a game of 'catch up' the last time as we were five goals down from early on.
"Botswana play a very similar style to Zambia and they are very quick. But, if we play with heart, passion and pride, anything's possible."
Canada (18th) and Ireland (25th) will start the day with a battle for fifth spot.
- Papua New Guinea 43 Ireland 41
- Botswana 64 Canada 31