New-look netballers open by rolling over Brunei 68-19

Singapore's goal attack Toh Kai Wei is poised to receive the ball from wing attack Kimberly Lim in the Asian Netball Championship match against Brunei yesterday. Toh contributed 15 goals in the Republic's 68-19 win over the Bruneians.
Singapore's goal attack Toh Kai Wei is poised to receive the ball from wing attack Kimberly Lim in the Asian Netball Championship match against Brunei yesterday. Toh contributed 15 goals in the Republic's 68-19 win over the Bruneians.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

A 68-19 victory over Brunei put the wind in the sails of the Singapore team's rebuilding project at the opening game of the Asian Netball Championship yesterday.

The hosts, playing at the OCBC Arena, decided to give young goal shooters Lee Pei Shan and Tan Xin Yi an opportunity and both played their part in the convincing win.

Lee, 18, and earning her third cap, scored 19 goals from 26 attempts while 21-year-old Tan, making her international debut, converted 20 of her 22 tries to record an accuracy rate of 91 per cent.

Co-vice-captain Charmaine Soh chipped in with 14 goals while goal-attack Toh Kai Wei contributed 15.

National coach Natalie Milicich said: "Both (Lee and Tan) were nervous before the game but it's nice to get the first game under their belts. They posted very good shooting percentages and I am very proud of their performance."

Brunei coach Jane Searle conceded that her side had lost to the better team, saying: "This has been a rude awakening for us. Singapore played an excellent game and showed their experience. They (Singapore) benefit from having regular club seasons and we need to develop our club scene if we want to rise to another level."

Singapore, Asian champions in 2005, 2012 and 2014 and ranked 21st in the world, are going through a rejuvenation process but the presence of veterans such as wing-defence Vanessa Lee (92 caps), Nurul Baizura (107) and Soh (93) provided the guile to load the bullets for the new goal shooters to fire.

Although the unranked Bruneian team did not provide the sternest of challenges, Milicich is pleased that the opening win is in the bag and the team's aim of reaching the final will gather steam.

The New Zealander said: "It's all going to plan but we have to keep up the intensity. When you have so much of the ball, the odd error will happen. It's going to get tougher and we've just got to keep working hard."

In the day's other games, defending champions Malaysia beat Japan 88-13 in a Group A match with Australia-based goal-shooter An Najwa Azizan leading the scoring with 25 goals.

Sri Lanka, runners-up in the 2016 edition and with five players standing at 1.8m and above, opened Group B by crushing a Chinese Taipei side, whose average age is only 13 and average height only 1.6m, 137-5.

In Group D, Thailand began their campaign with a 71-36 win over the Philippines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'New-look netballers open by rolling over Brunei 68-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe