Milicich sees positives despite missing out on final

Singapore's national netball team may have fallen short of their target of reaching the final of the Mission Foods Nations Cup, but the players and national coach Natalie Milicich were still in good spirits after a 61-35 win over Malaysia at the OCBC Arena yesterday.

Cook Islands' 54-44 victory over Swaziland earlier in the day ruled the hosts out of contention for a top-two finish, but Milicich preferred to look at the positives.

"This tournament was about me understanding our team better with regard to players and I've learnt a lot about them... we've got better and better every game," said New Zealander Milicich, who assumed her role in September.

"(Today) we had four good quarters... I'm really proud of how they stepped up."

Co-vice captain Nurul Baizura agreed, saying: "It would have been great to be in the final and win the championship, but we can look at our performances and minimise our small but costly mistakes - I hope the girls can take this as a stepping stone."

Yesterday's victory was world No. 19 Singapore's second and most convincing of the tournament, after a 44-37 win over Hong Kong the previous day.

The hosts had lost their first two matches to Ireland (53-54) and Swaziland (51-64).

Although Malaysia dethroned Singapore as SEA Games netball champions in Kuala Lumpur in August, the world No. 20 side fielded a youth team for the Dec 3-9 Nations Cup with only vice-captain Karishma Loganathan from that gold medal-winning squad.

Singapore's Melody Teo keeping a tight watch on Malaysia's Noor Haidayu Hasmira Hasbullah in the 61-35 win yesterday. The Republic will play for third place on Saturday against an opponent yet to be confirmed. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The 17-year-old rued her side's "careless mistakes", but said the tournament was good exposure for her team-mates, who were preparing for the 2019 Asian Youth Netball Championship.

On Singapore's performance, the shooter said: "Most of their skills have improved. We gave a great fight, but we should be more patient and we'll work on those mistakes."

Singapore will play for third place on Saturday, although their opponents have not been confirmed yet.

They are focused on tomorrow's match against the undefeated and unranked Cook Islands.

Said Baizura: "There's no pressure on us, the pressure's on them.

"The girls are ready and we're going all out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Milicich sees positives despite missing out on final'. Print Edition | Subscribe