Win brings joy back to S'pore netballers
Hirubalan's pep talk about the pumpkin sparks Singapore's 84-12 win
It was a match that pitted Asian champions against netball newbies, a David-against-Goliath contest in which victory was a given.
But the hosts' 84-12 SEA Games win over the Philippines still brought the joy back to a team who haven't lost a single match and helped coach Ruth Aitken smile wider.
And it was all about the pumpkin.
"Before the competition, we were all in high spirits and expectations on us were quite high too, but that draw (with Malaysia) made us come back to reality - it's helped us refocus on the game," said goal shooter Charmaine Soh, who skipped off the court to address the waiting media.
On Tuesday, Singapore drew 35-35 with their closest rivals Malaysia. It seemed to break something in the hosts, who dragged themselves off the OCBC Arena court.
Goal defender Premila Hirubalan called for her teammates to treat the disappointing result like the magic that turned Cinderella's pumpkin into a carriage.
And yesterday, they did just that, casting a spell of their own as the smiles returned.
"We had a good long team talk yesterday and again today. We had to face the fact that we had a hard day in the office (against Malaysia), and it's okay to be sad for a while - but it had to disappear, like the pumpkin," said Premila.
"And yes, everyone bounced back really well. The shooters shot really well today - all four of them."
Soh and goal attack, Chen Huifen, did not enjoy the fourth quarter against Malaysia on Tuesday. Soh converted only one of six attempts in the quarter, while Chen scored four of her seven tries.
Yesterday, they finished with game averages of 88 (Soh) and 85 per cent (Chen) respectively.
The team's other shooters, Pamela Liew (80) and Yasmin Ho (83) also got a game last night, as did every member of Aitken's 12-strong squad.
"Charmaine was great. It really isn't about what happens, it's how you respond; and its good to see her smile," said Aitken.
"We were pretty tense 24 hours before... And at the team meeting, we spoke about accountability and taking ownership. It was a night everyone felt sorry for themselves.
"But now we're relaxed again and had a bit of fun out there. It's like what Prem said (the day before) about the pumpkin."
Chen came off in the eighth minute of the third quarter yesterday with a wrist injury, but Aitken was not too worried about her vice-captain.
"It's just a tweak. We must be cautious at this time, but she'll be fine," said the Kiwi.
Soh is already looking ahead, in the hope that she can carry on in the same vein of form.
"We need to stay calm and keep possession, and concentrate on what we need to do," she said.
"Shooters have the most amount of pressure, but we've just got to suck it up and shoot it. The team need us at the most crucial times and we just have to do it."