Singapore's netball team opened their SEA Games campaign with a comfortable 62-37 win over Brunei yesterday, but for coach Yeo Mee Hong and her charges, the value of the game lay not in the result but in the lessons learnt.
At the Juara Stadium in the Bukit Kiara Sports Complex, the Singaporeans dominated the first half, leading 33-13. But their opponents, backed by a small but vocal group of fewer than 20 supporters, found their footing in the third quarter, with both sides scoring the same number of goals in the period.
Brunei's shooting accuracy in the third quarter (80 per cent) surpassed Singapore's (70.59 per cent) as they each potted 12 goals.
The Republic posted an 84.93 per cent overall shooting accuracy, while Brunei's was 72.55 per cent.
Yeo acknowledged that her charges would have to improve ahead of their next match against hosts Malaysia tomorrow.
The five-nation tournament is a round-robin affair, with the top four making the semi-finals. Thailand and the Philippines are the other teams in the tournament.
"We want to minimise our unforced errors and step up in terms of our flow through court, and accuracy in placing the ball," she said.
"We have a day off (today), and hopefully we would have settled down and will be able to control the game against Malaysia."
Of the third-quarter blip, she pointed out that she had changed the line-up and "the new players were probably unsettled when they entered the court".
"Brunei took advantage of that and shot really well to put up a good challenge, but we managed to come back in the last quarter and finish well," she added.
Captain Vanessa Lee, a veteran who is playing in her first SEA Games, said: "A lot of players definitely had nerves, but throughout the game they worked it off. It's good to just get the (jitters) out after the first game."
Shooter Jocelyn Ng, who made her SEA Games debut in the third quarter, expects the game against Malaysia to be "10 times harder". The hosts had earlier walloped Thailand 73-30.
"We watched their video and analysed their game, and their match against Thailand today - they're always coming up for the high balls, unlike last time," said the 25-year-old.
Yesterday's match also marked wing attack Kimberly Lim's 50th cap for Singapore, and she was presented with a bouquet by Netball Singapore chief executive officer Cyrus Medora before the game.