SINGAPORE - In their first international competition since the 2019 SEA Games, Singapore claimed one of their biggest wins ever as they beat Japan 103-3 in the opening match of the Asian Netball Championship (ANC) on Saturday.
Despite the scoreline, Singapore head coach Annette Bishop insisted it was not all one-way traffic.
The New Zealander said Japan’s ability to hold the ball forced her team to adapt and adjust their roles, adding: “We won by a big margin, but we weren’t looking at the score.
“Japan were good because they play a different style, so we were able to look at trying to keep the ball going forward...
“We’ve worked on a few things that we needed to strengthen and we saw that coming out today, which was great – it’s making those attacking links stronger and being able to bring in different combinations.”
At the OCBC Arena, the Republic, ranked 34th in the world, surged to a 21-2 lead in the first quarter, but suffered a setback when veteran attacker Charmaine Soh, 32, sustained an injury on her right knee less than eight minutes into the second quarter.
Soh was later ruled out for the rest of the tournament. She will be going for an MRI scan on Monday.
Lee Pei Shan filled Soh’s role and they continued to dominate the one-sided encounter.
Three-time Asian champions Singapore restricted Japan to scoreless second and third quarters as they entered the final 15 minutes with a 79-2 lead, before passing the 100-goal mark to cap the emphatic win.
Previous big wins include a 91-22 victory over the Philippines at the 2017 SEA Games while Singapore also beat Pakistan 84-17 at the 2018 ANC, en route to finishing runners-up.
Japan are unranked and the majority of their 10-player squad here are uncapped at international level.
Singapore co-captain Khor Ting Fang, 26, was pleased with how the team bounced back after Soh’s injury.
She said: “Having Charmaine (who won her 123rd international cap on Saturday) go down is definitely a loss given the sheer amount of experience that she has.
“But something the squad has been working towards, especially with Annette as head coach, is the depth that we’ve been building within the team.
“I have no doubt that we’ll still be able to carry on strongly throughout the competition.”
Japan’s Lia Akagi, 28, remained optimistic despite her team’s heavy defeat, insisting there were lessons to take away. Their next match is on Monday against Maldives, who will face Singapore on Sunday.
She added: “It was the first time playing internationally for a lot of us and playing the host country was very tough... There’s definitely a lot we can work on, like our passes.”
Reigning champions Sri Lanka also hit a century of goals on Saturday as they stormed to a 102-14 win over India, while Malaysia beat Brunei 78-22 in the last match of the opening day.
The top two sides at the 11-team ANC will book their place at next year’s World Cup, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.