SINGAPORE — They battled hard in the absence of their injured stalwart, but Singapore could not overcome Namibia in the Netball Nations Cup final, eventually succumbing 42-49 at OCBC Arena on Saturday (26 October).
In a closely-fought contest, similar to their 54-54 draw in the opening pool stage of the six-nation tournament, Singapore had no answer for the African team’s 1.92m-tall goal shooter Jaumbuaije Zauana, who gratefully accepted all the high lobs by her teammates to score 46 of her team’s points on 96 per cent shooting.
The hosts were also missing their wing attack Kimberly Lim, who suffered a serious ankle injury in the final pool match against Papua New Guinea, and will be out of the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines, where Singapore are attempting to regain the gold medal from Malaysia.
Still, they managed to lead 25-20 at half-time, thanks to some stellar shooting from captain Charmaine Soh, and several sloppy turnovers by Namibia.
However, Namibia stepped up their defensive intensity, and forced errors from the Singapore players to overturn the deficit. Without the veteran presence of Lim, the hosts could not mount a sustained comeback in the final minutes, even though Lim’s replacement Kwok Shuyi did a commendable job.
Coach proud of team effort at tournament
Singapore coach Natalie Milicich insisted that she is proud of her team’s effort throughout the tournament.
“I think that the finals is a hard stage. So I think that we’ve learnt a lot from our match today and I’m just really proud that we got to the finals,” she told Yahoo News Singapore.
“It’s just those little connections that we were missing, having lost Kimberly with a very serious injury. We got enough chances to actually win the game but I think the timings were important as well as just the availability to the ball was just something that we missed today.
“We knew it was going to take us a bit of time to connect with one another, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done out there.”
Attention turns to SEA Games
Singapore will now turn their attention to the SEA Games netball competition, which will take place in Santa Rosa in the Philippines province of Laguna from 25 November to 2 December. And Milicich believes that, from what she has seen at the Nations Cup, Singapore is on the right track to battle with Malaysia for the Games gold.
“With the loss of Kimberly, we have the opportunity to try out something different, so we just need a bit of time to get that right,” she said. “I’m really proud of them getting into the finals and not many people would’ve thought that we could have done that. We’ll definitely take positives from the tournament.”
Cook Islands, champions in the previous Nations Cup edition in 2017, clinched third place after beating Botswana 49-46. In the fifth/sixth-place playoff, Ireland defeated Papua New Guinea 47-37.