Netball: Singapore spirit earns praises

Singapore's Toh Kai Wei trying to shake off her Botswana marker during their match yesterday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Singapore's Toh Kai Wei trying to shake off her Botswana marker during their match yesterday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Hosts show never-say-die attitude but let down by inconsistency in loss to Botswana

M1 NATIONS CUP

Singapore 52

Botswana 57

Several times at the M1 Nations Cup yesterday, Singapore took the lead against a physical Botswana side only for the Africans to catch up and eventually triumph 57-52.

There was an air of disappointment after the final whistle at the OCBC Arena as the hosts, ranked 28th in the world and two rungs below their opponents, cut dejected figures on court.

Captain Charmaine Soh put their defeat down to inconsistency during the match.

Just as it was in the 54-54 draw with Namibia last Sunday, she felt the team had started strongly against Botswana but failed to keep it up for the rest of the game.

Singapore trailed the visitors by just two goals at the end of the first two periods - 14-12 and 30-28 - but the gap widened to five by the end of the third quarter and Botswana maintained the margin to secure the victory.

Soh said: "We definitely need to maintain our consistency. The first two quarters were very close, but we have to capitalise on our (possession).

ROUGH DAY

It's a tough matchup; they were physically getting manhandled out there. That grinds you down and sometimes the decisions that you make under pressure aren't the best.

'' NATALIE MILICICH, Singapore national coach, on the loss to Botswana.

"Every time we gain the ball, we lose it. Once we intercepted the ball, we tend to want to look far and we're excited to pass the ball. We must be more careful and focus on bringing down those balls that our defenders get.

"But we've also got to give credit to Botswana. When they lose the ball, they go all out."

However, Soh was encouraged by the never-say-die spirit the team displayed against Botswana which she hopes can be maintained when they take on world No. 25 Ireland today.

Despite the loss, Singapore coach Natalie Milicich was proud of the way her charges took on Botswana.

The New Zealander said: "It's a tough matchup; they were physically getting manhandled out there.

"That grinds you down and sometimes the decisions that you make under pressure aren't the best, just because you are feeling that pressure.

"But we never gave up and we're trying to get that consistency in our game and we're getting much better at it."

For Botswana's coach Sithulile Mlotshwa, the win was crucial.

Just two days before the competition, there were doubts over their participation in the invitational tournament due to administrative issues.

The uncertainty disrupted their preparations and the team arrived in Singapore only on Sunday morning, before their match against the Cook Islands that afternoon. They lost 54-47.

Mlotshwa said: "It disturbed the minds of the girls when we came late, but I would say we have settled down. We needed to get the win because it prepares us for the next games."

In other games yesterday, Namibia hammered Ireland 52-31 and Cook Islands thrashed Papua New Guinea 62-34.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore spirit earns praises'. Print Edition | Subscribe