Netballers get off to solid start
But defending champions need to tighten their defence in big clash with hosts Malaysia tomorrow
It wasn't all pretty, but the Singapore netball team got the job done yesterday and got off to a winning start at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The defending champions outclassed Brunei 62-37 at the Juara Stadium, just like they did in 2015 when they started their victorious campaign on home ground with a 72-21 win over the same opponents.
But Brunei's class of 2017 certainly packed more bite and aggression than their predecessors.
Singapore coach Yeo Mee Hong said: "We started the game well, we were able to control the game in the first half, our structure was good and our feeders were able to get the ball through to the shooting circle in that period."
Chief goal poacher Charmaine Soh scored 40 goals and finished with a shooting accuracy of 87 per cent, while Zhang Ailin and Jocelyn Ng chipped in with 18 and four goals respectively.
Kimberly Lim also earned her 50th international cap yesterday.
It wasn't all smooth sailing though, with the Singaporeans making several wayward passes during their transitions from defence to attack, especially in the first period.
Captain Vanessa Lee, 33, said: "We started the match with quite a bit of nerves, but we were able to work our way through it during the game."
Singapore outscored their opponents in every quarter except during the third, when Yeo made wholesale changes to the team and retained only Lee and Soh on the court.
Even then, Brunei - joint-bronze medallists in 2015 - could only tie Singapore 12-12 in that period.
Yeo said: "We were a little unsettled in the third quarter with all the changes, and the Bruneians took advantage of that.
"We made more changes in the last quarter, after which we settled and played well.
"I thought we had a good finish."
The team have a rest day today, before they face reigning Asian champions and 2015 runners-up Malaysia tomorrow in another preliminary-round fixture.
The hosts started their SEA Games campaign yesterday with a 73-30 thrashing of Thailand, joint-bronze medallists in 2015.
Singapore will have to iron out some kinks ahead of the big match, such as their man-marking and defending of high balls into the circle.
Yeo said: "We'd have to cut down on our unforced errors, and definitely improve on our man-to-man marking.
"We got the gold medal the last time and Malaysia will go all out on home ground against us.
"But, if we get our act together and minimise our errors, we should be able to put up a good fight on Wednesday."