Netball: S'pore through to Asian C'ship s-finals after beating Maldives 96-10

Singapore (in blue) beats Maldives (in green) 96-10 during the Asian Netball Championship. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Three-time Asian champions Singapore are through to the last four of the Asian Netball Championship after routing Maldives 96-10 in their final group match at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.

The Singaporeans finished top of Group B and will face Hong Kong, who beat Thailand 56-29 to place first in Group D, in the second round on Tuesday.

Teams who finish top of their group will advance to the semi-finals on Saturday, with the second round results to determine the fixtures for the semis.

Despite losing veteran shooter Charmaine Soh to a knee injury in their opening game on Saturday, the team rallied behind her replacement Goh Wei Ping, who made her international debut against Maldives.

The 21-year-old, who contributed 30 goals, said: "I'm very honoured to be able to play alongside this very supportive team, and also very thankful that they always give me encouragement when I step on court.

"I was nervous because it's my very first international competition, but I'm glad everything went well. All the seniors gave me advice - Kim (Kimberly Lim) was rubbing my hands because it was so cold and I'm very afraid of the cold. She told me to be confident, settle down, trust myself and believe in what I can do."

Singapore head coach Annette Bishop said: "There's a lot of nerves, so for (Goh) to give a performance like today was excellent and I'm really happy with what she's put out there.

"It's exciting for us to be in the semi-finals. We were just working on making sure we make our combinations a lot stronger and both Japan and Maldives have provided some really good challenges as well for us to adapt to, so that was good for us. Once again, it's one game at a time now and we know that it's going to get tougher."

Hong Kong vice-captain Lo Fung Yee said the team were happy to get back on court after missing out on international action in the last three years.

She added: "Some of us are quite new to the team; I saw a lot of new faces in the Singapore team as well. We'll definitely have our different combinations and it's an all-new experience for us, so we are very excited to get competitive with the Singaporean team.

"We're really excited because we are here to get our ticket to South Africa (Netball World Cup), and it's really exciting to take one step forward to our goal.

The second day of action at the Asian Championships on Sunday also saw the Philippines and Brunei fending off spirited comebacks from their respective Group A and C rivals India and Chinese Taipei to win their games 45-41 and 38-34.

The preliminary round concludes on Monday with Malaysia taking on Chinese Taipei while Japan face Maldives and the Philippines will play Sri Lanka.

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