SINGAPORE - What a difference a day makes. Tuesday had marked their first victory, but it came after their worst performance in three games.
Wednesday night (Oct 23) came their second win at the M1 Nations Cup – a 59-47 upset victory over 12th-ranked Cook Islands – and Singapore coach Natalie Milicich was a considerably happier woman.
Unlike their previous games, the New Zealander felt that world No. 28 Singapore had seized their chances and put up a significantly better performance last night.
She said: “It’s a historic win for us. To beat a team that’s 12th in the world is an incredible result and it shows what we’ve been building towards.
“I’m very proud that we really implemented our game plan today and it was really important to actually convert those opportunities. We’ve been working on how to keep it and we managed to do it today.”
Milicich had rued the team’s inconsistency after the win over Ireland on Tuesday, highlighting the unforced errors and her team’s tendency to let slip the lead in a game..
But they spent yesterday morning ironing out the kinks in their defence, going back to their basic structures of play which helped them regain “that belief that we could get ball”.
The move paid off, with captain Charmaine Soh saying: “The team did very well in maintaining their composure, especially after we got the lead. It was very good that the team worked together and brought the ball down safely to the shooters today.”
The last time the Republic played the Cook Islands at the 2017 Nations Cup, they had lost 57-49, and had anticipated a tough game yet again.
But they were not fazed by the challenge ahead of them and had planned to go all out, which Soh felt they did.
Singapore started brightly to take the first quarter 14-7.
While Cook Islands posed threats occasionally, the hosts maintained their dominance to go 29-22 up in the second quarter. They grew their lead in the third quarter to 46-35.
They had a jittery start to the final quarter but shook off their nerves to seal the win.
Cook Islands coach Anna Andrews-Tasola said: “It was a great game. There was a lot at stake for both teams to be able to stay alive in the competition. Singapore played really well and we were just not quick enough.”
Last night’s result comes at a crucial time for Soh and Co, who had not tasted back-to-back wins in a while.
At July’s Netball World Cup in Liverpool, they lost all their matches and they had started their Nations Cup campaign with a draw against Namibia (world No. 33) and a loss to Botswana (No. 26) before Tuesday’s win over Ireland (No. 25).
Milicich said: “We’ve started building that belief and (the game against Ireland) was our first win for a while because it was such a tough platform for us at the World Cup.
“It was important that we built on that, so that (result) really helped our confidence.”
In the day’s earlier matches, undefeated Namibia consolidated their spot at the top of the table with a 59-47 win over winless Papua New Guinea. Botswana also won, beating Ireland 46-34.
Singapore now sit third in the table with five points, behind Namibia, who are first with seven, and second-placed Botswana, who have six.
The hosts have a shot at making the final on Saturday, but have one more game to play against world No. 20 Papua New Guinea on Friday after a one-day break on Thursday.