Singapore netball team unstoppable, say rivals
Brunei suffer and coach Jinadasa says hosts will land gold
It was a day of big wins at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Malaysia, the sole gold medallists in netball at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games, got their campaign off to an impressive start, swatting aside Myanmar 84-22.
Thailand also tormented their opponents, beating the Philippines 62-22.
Brunei coach Thilaka Jinadasa, though, believes no one will be able to stop the Singapore netball machine, after the hosts vanquished her side 72-21 in front of a big partisan crowd.
Speaking to The New Paper after Brunei's loss at the Sports Hub yesterday, Jinadasa said: "I don't think there is any team in this competition that can stop Singapore.
"Probably only Malaysia come closest, but at the end of the day Singapore are the best among the teams here.
"That's how strong the hosts really are. All the other teams are going to be really up against it."
The Singapore women, who are the Asian champions, ended off an eventful first quarter with a 19-6 lead.
Any thoughts of a challenge were extinguished by the end of the second quarter, with Singapore going into the half-time break 38-9 up, with goal shooter Charmaine Soh scoring 26 of those points.
It was smooth sailing over the next two quarters, and coach Ruth Aitken could not hide her pleasure at the end, when she said: "I'm delighted. We've been practising for the longest time, so now, it's good to finally play in front of a home crowd.
"We had the opportunity to chop and change by half-time, so we were able to rest some key players here and there.
"All in all, we fielded all our players.
"In the next few games, we need to keep doing what we've always been doing, which is to keep the speed of the ball going, keep up the tempo and also maintain our energy levels.
"Right now, a good start is what we wanted, and we got it."
This is only the second time netball is part of the SEA Games (the first was in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur).
A team aiming to win gold will have to play seven matches in eight days - five in the round-robin stage, along with the semi-final and final.
Singapore captain Micky Lin, the 29-year-old goal defender, is up for the challenge.
She said: "All of us were able to get some game time today, and that's good. It helps us to familiarise ourselves with each other, and develop tactics and link our playing styles.
"I think we have to progress from here on and get even better.
"We have a chance to make history now, so it's all about us being able to execute our game plan in every game that we play."
We’ll take it one game at a time, and not give too much thought (about the gold medal), because that will weigh us down.
— Singapore netball coach Ruth Aitken