Malaysia 'too good' for Singapore in netball final
Singapore's netballers huffed and puffed but were no match for an all-conquering Malaysia at the Juara Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, as they relinquished their SEA Games crown to the hosts following a 65-41 defeat.
Yesterday's final was a far cry from the nail-biting encounter between the same two opponents in 2015, when Singapore prevailed 46-43 to clinch the title on home soil.
Having already beaten Singapore 50-37 during the group stage, Malaysia went into the final as the overwhelming favourites.
The Asian champions stamped their class from the first whistle, racing to a 20-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and widening their advantage to 36-12 at half-time.
Singapore halted the slide with an improved performance in the second half, even outscoring the Malaysians 16-15 in the third quarter, but the damage had already been done.
Singapore coach Yeo Mee Hong admitted that they had lost to a better team.
However, she was proud of how her charges refused to give up the fight, pointing to their improvement after the halfway mark.
She said: "Malaysia put up such an excellent game against us and they have been very consistent throughout the whole SEA Games tournament.
"In the second half, we came back with fighting spirit, with everyone working together, and I thought it was an excellent performance from them.
"Unfortunately, we just couldn't bring out our A-game against Malaysia - they were too strong for us."
Yeo added that the team will now focus on the Nations Cup in December.
Co-vice captain Nurul Baizura hopes that the team will learn from the lessons of this defeat.
Since the SEA Games triumph two years ago, Singapore have undergone a major change in their line-up due to the departures of a number of senior players.
Only five players from the current team of 12 are from the 2015 squad.
Said Baizura: "With inexperience also comes the lesson learnt.
"Hopefully, with this tough defeat, we will know what to work on when we are back in Singapore.
"Hopefully, the younger ones will take this as a stepping stone and learning journey as to what the international level is all about."
Malaysia's win over Singapore yesterday was the third SEA Games gold-medal showdown between the two countries.
Malaysia defeated Singapore 53-42 to win gold in Kuala Lumpur In 2001 - the only other time the sport was included at the biennial Games.