Milicich positive despite Fiji defeats

Vanessa Lee (centre) earned her 100th cap during yesterday's Test match against Fiji, who won 70-48 at the OCBC Arena. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Vanessa Lee (centre) earned her 100th cap during yesterday's Test match against Fiji, who won 70-48 at the OCBC Arena. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

National netball coach Natalie Milicich believes Singapore are on track to reclaim the gold medal at the Philippines SEA Games later this year.

Despite losing all three Tests against Fiji, she saw the positives in the team's first competitive games since the squad of 16 was named after the Netball Super League season two weeks ago.

Yesterday, Singapore, 24th in the world, lost 70-48 to Fiji, ranked 10 places above, at the OCBC Arena.

It followed the 65-57 and 64-57 defeats on Wednesday and Thursday.

Milicich told The Sunday Times yesterday: "The first two matches were very competitive and (yesterday) Fiji really used their strength.

"We've played some really good structures but it's hard to keep them when you're against (physically strong opponents).

"It's given us a lot to think about. We're on track now, we know there are things we can work on and focus on, heading into the Netball World Cup (in Liverpool in July).

"The Worlds will give us experience but, ultimately, the goal is to be ready for the SEA Games."

Areas to work on include establishing stronger links and improving transitions between defence and attack.

Milicich fielded all 16 players over the three matches, with goalkeeper Joanna Toh and centre Khor Ting Fang earning their first caps, while Netball Singapore Hall of Famer Vanessa Lee collected her 100th cap yesterday.

Milicich said of the 22-year-old Khor, who used to be a defender: "She offers a really strong defensive centre game, which is something we will need going into some of the (tougher) matches.

"There were some good moments which gave us an opportunity to look at different combinations.

"Once we make a final decision on the team for the Worlds, we'll be able to (strengthen) some of those combinations."

The New Zealander's 12-player World Cup team will be announced by the end of next month.

Singapore will spar with the Darwin state team in June as part of their warm-up for the competition.

After Liverpool, they will go on an overseas training tour to prepare for the Oct 20-26 Nations Cup, which will be Singapore's last tournament before the SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11.

Singapore captain and goal-shooter Charmaine Soh said the Fiji series was a good start to the season.

The 29-year-old said: "We had good patches of play today but definitely it could have been better. I'm proud everyone kept to the game plan, and we'll build from there."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'Milicich positive despite Fiji defeats'. Print Edition | Subscribe