Sri Lanka oust champs Singapore
Holders S'pore lose to old foes Sri Lanka in Asian semi-final
ASIAN C'SHIP SEMI-FINALS
SRI LANKA 36
For the first time in 19 years, Singapore will finish outside the top two at the Asian Netball Championship, after they lost 36-30 to Sri Lanka in the semi-finals in Bangkok yesterday.
Champions in 2012 and 2014, Vanessa Lee and Co went into the last-four tie yesterday aiming to make their sixth consecutive final, but found their taller opponents too much to handle.
National coach Ruth Aitken said: "We are very disappointed not to get into the final, but credit to our opponents who didn't allow us to play our normal game."
Four-time Asian champions Sri Lanka made life difficult for Singapore in the shooting circle, with Pamela Liew's 61.1 conversion rate the best among the Republic's attackers.
Former Silver Ferns coach Aitken said: "In defence, we did a good job, but we needed to do a great job today, we created some good balls for the attackers, but we needed more.
"Our attackers struggled with the long arms of their defenders, and we had issues with individual execution, as well as combinations."
In defence, we did a good job, but we needed to do a great job today, we created some good balls for the attackers, but we needed more.
— Singapore coach Ruth Aitken (above)
To be fair, this is the first major tournament for a new-look Singapore team, following the international retirement of centurions Micky Lin, Premila Hirubalan and Chen Huifen.
The team are in a transitional phase ahead of next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, where they will aim to retain their gold medal.
There is also the Asian Championship at home to look forward to in 2018, with the two finalists of that tournament qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.
Aitken said: "Taking into account the changes, it (a semi-final showing) is fair and okay, but it is not good enough for us.
"There is a lot of work to be done (before next year's SEA Games), particularly in growing the depth of our national squad, and providing more pressure situations for them to learn how to adapt to them.
"Watching the game from the bench is nothing like having being out there on the court and having to be responsible (for the outcome)."
Singapore will face Hong Kong in the third-placing match today, after Malaysia pipped the Hong Kongers 35-34 in the other semi-final.
The Republic put on a stellar show to beat Hong Kong, who have eight foreigners in their team of 12, 32-18 in a Group A tie last week.
Aitken said: "I told the team that it's very important for us to end the tournament on a positive note.
"They've got tonight to feel bad, and disappointed, but hopefully they will pick themselves up tomorrow and get the job done."