Singapore's netballers start with 47-42 win over PNG
PAPUA NEW GUINEA 42
This week's six-team Netball Nations Cup is seen as a preparation, as well as an "audition", for the Singapore players for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here and the World Cup in Australia next August.
Yesterday, Singapore returned to the Sports Hub's OCBC Arena - where they retained their Asian Championship title in September - and clinched a hard-fought 47-42 victory over Papua New Guinea in the opening match.
Lin Qingyi and Co outscored their opponents in every quarter except for the third, where they were outgunned 9-14.
Singapore coach Ruth Aitken attributed the poor quarter to tiredness and missed passes, coupled with PNG bringing on players who were fresh.
Referring to her captain Lin, the New Zealander said: "Micky's calmness through the court gives confidence although connections weren't where they should be, not quite like at the Asian Championship.
"We haven't quite got our flow yet but it's a long week. There is a starting point (for us) and I will be wanting more tomorrow."
The Pacific Islanders, ranked 17th in the world compared to Singapore's 19th position, could have run away with the game in the third period, but their momentum was broken by a tactical injury time-out by veteran defender Premila Hirubalan.
The 32-year-old medical officer said: "They were getting a lot of momentum. I just wanted to get some stoppage in the game and for us to regroup."
Forwards Charmaine Soh and Chen Huifen secured the victory for Singapore in the last 15 minutes with 13 points.
The win will be a boost for the team, in the hardest edition of the Nations Cup's nine-year history.
Other than PNG, Samoa (14th) and Botswana (16th) are also higher-ranked than Singapore, with Malaysia (23rd) and Ireland (27th) completing the roster.
Lin said: "This is definitely harder than the Asian Champs... it's good for us that we play teams near us in the world rankings, and that they have different playing styles from us.
"It's good preparation for us when we go to the World Cup next year."
The players will have the entire week in competition to impress Aitken to seal their spots in both the SEA Games and World Cup squads.
Aitken said: "We have got a competitive squad pushing very hard, these players have the opportunity to show their worth in this tournament.
"The challenges we will have each day - different opponents with totally different styles - will allow me to see who is able to adjust and adapt.
"I believe what we are going to learn in this international environment is going to stand us in very good stead for both the SEA Games and the World Cup."
- Ireland 39 Botswana 50
- Samoa 56 Malaysia 30
- 3pm: Ireland v Malaysia
- 5pm: Papua New Guinea v Samoa
- 7pm: Singapore v Botswana