SINGAPORE — The Singapore national netball team secured their place in the final of the Netball Nations Cup, after beating Papua New Guinea 57-47 for their third straight victory at the OCBC Arena on Friday evening (25 October).
However, they will likely have to face pool winners Namibia in Saturday’s final without their experienced wing attack Kimberly Lim, who suffered a serious-looking injury in the first quarter and could not continue.
Despite the loss of one of their key players, Singapore managed to regroup and dominate Papua New Guinea, who were without a win at the tournament. The hosts took a 45-29 lead after three quarters and could afford to rest the likes of captain Charmaine Soh in the fourth as they reached their first Nations Cup final since 2014, when they lost to Samoa.
It is an encouraging turnaround for the Singapore netballers, after a tough Netball World Cup campaign in July when they lost all their matches. Even early in the Nations Cup, coach Natalie Milicich was not satisfied with the intensity and consistency of the players.
“Making the finals is always really exciting and it shows the manner of work we've been doing,” she said after Friday’s win.
“Losing Kimberly at the start, we really had to dig deep and look at our structures and combinations. She's so key to us, so losing a key player took us long to switch over what we did.
“But the players are in a place where they have a lot of confidence, and they know that even if something happens we have a back-up plan – which is what we proved today.”
Winners in 2006 and 2007
Singapore won the first two editions of the Nations Cup in 2006 and 2007, and were runners-up thrice (2011, 2013 and 2014). And captain Soh – who made 33 of 37 shots in her goal shooter role – is hopeful that her team can beat Namibia on the second attempt, after their pool match on Sunday ended in a 54-54 draw.
“We made it, finally, from losing all the games (at the World Cup) and thinking ‘Oh no, we cannot win anymore’, to winning most of our games,” she said after the match.
“Since we’re in the finals, we need to go all out and do our best. We need more communication, because when the team gets quiet we tend to lose the ball. So it’s more of getting each other refocused and connect with one another on the court.”
In an earlier match on Friday, Namibia beat Botswana 54-47 to finish the pool stage with four wins and a draw. Botswana, who were in second spot before the match, were overtaken by Singapore and failed to make the final. Defending champions Cook Islands defeated Ireland 45-34 in the third match on Friday.
Singapore will take on Namibia in the Nations Cup final at 4pm on Saturday at OCBC Arena. For more information, please visit Netball Singapore’s website, while tickets to the tournament are available here.