Inexperience costs Singapore at the M1 Asian Netball Championship

Singapore's Nurul Baizura keeping the ball beyond the reach of her Hong Kong opponent during their second-round game at the OCBC Arena. Singapore lost 50-49 to an older, more experienced Hong Kong side.
Singapore's Nurul Baizura keeping the ball beyond the reach of her Hong Kong opponent during their second-round game at the OCBC Arena. Singapore lost 50-49 to an older, more experienced Hong Kong side.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Young netball team suffer second loss at Asian Championship to savvy Hong Kong

The lessons are coming thick and fast at the M1 Asian Netball Championship for Singapore's young, new-look team as they fell to a second consecutive defeat yesterday, narrowly losing 50-49 to Hong Kong.

In a game at the OCBC Arena that juxtaposed youth and experience, problematic decision-making again proved the Republic's undoing.

The hosts, with four players making their national debuts at the tournament, started with two of them - goalkeeper Sindhu Nair, 22, and goal-shooter Lee Pei Shan, 18.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, have the oldest squad among the 12 teams here and fielded all four of their over-40 players from the beginning.

"We started with a young line-up and this is all definitely adding to their experience," said national head coach Natalie Milicich.

"Hong Kong were smart in different situations and knew when to slow the game down and make things difficult for us but I think we also let ourselves down with unforced ones.

"We just need to learn, and this includes the senior players, how to make better decisions in the critical moments."

Her counterpart Robin Manihera also pointed to composure as the deciding factor.

"Before the game we talked about not getting flustered, sticking to the task and the players did all these things," she said.

"They did lose the plot a little in the fourth quarter but they got back on task so that was quite pleasing actually."

Singapore paid the price for a wobbly start as Hong Kong opened up a five-goal lead after the first quarter at 20-15.

That was the most goals either team would score in a quarter as Hong Kong, the older and slower side, began to dictate the pace and frustrated their opponents.

A furious fourth quarter rally got the home crowd going as Singapore, down 47-44, scored the next two points to close the gap, but wasted several opportunities to draw level in the closing minutes.

Malaysia had earlier staged a rally of their own against Sri Lanka in the fourth quarter despite losing star goal-shooter An Najwa Azizan to an ankle injury, but came up just short 62-59.

Sri Lanka now lead the tussle for semi-final seeding with two wins. Hong Kong and Malaysia each have one win and one loss.

Singapore face rivals Malaysia in today's last second-round matches.

Said national captain Vanessa Lee: "The team are obviously upset about this loss but we have to get back to trusting our connection and playing at the level that we are capable of."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Inexperience costs S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe