SINGAPORE - The netballers were the first members of Team Singapore to taste action at the SEA Games and they opened the host nation's campaign in the best way possible - with a resounding victory.
Captain Micky Lin and her team-mates trounced Brunei 72-21 at the OCBC Arena yesterday, dominating the game with fluid offence and tight defence.
Fittingly, the win came on the back of sterling efforts from veteran Premila Hirubalan, 32, the lone survivor of Singapore's only other SEA Games netball campaign back in 2001, and rookie Shina Teo, 19.
Singapore coach Ruth Aitken, while noting that "everybody played well", singled both out for praise.
She hailed Hirubalan after the veteran made several key interceptions, saying: "Defensively, Premila was outstanding."
On wing defender Teo, the New Zealander added: "I thought she did a great job. I could see she was young, enthusiastic, and just waiting to get out on court."
Teo, who admitted she was "very excited" before her international debut, said: "The beginning was a bit difficult for me, but then I slowly picked up momentum, so it worked out well."
The hosts led from start to finish, carving out a 39-8 lead by half-time. Brunei never threatened, and the hosts' dominance allowed coach Aitken to rest several of her players in the second half, making five substitutions.
The 2,200-strong partisan home crowd cheered every goal that Singapore scored, chanting "we want 70" in the fourth quarter, which goal attacker Chen Huifen soon obliged, to huge cheers.
Starting shooter Charmaine Soh made 77 per cent of her shots, scoring 20 goals, while goal attacker Pamela Liew made 79 per cent of hers, netting 19 goals.
Their replacements in the second half, Chen and Yasmin Ho, scored 17 and 16 goals respectively to ease Singapore to victory.
Aitken rated the performance "7 out of 10" but noted that her team still had a few kinks to work out: "We just need a little bit more familiarity in the links between players, and the courage to let the ball go."
Lin was also satisfied, saying: "We've been training a lot and playing against our own team, so it was good to play around different kinds of players, and try different combinations."
Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who watched the game, said: "It's a very good start to our SEA Games campaign... the home crowd was tremendous, and I think it gives Team Singapore a boost."
In other matches, Thailand outclassed the Philippines 62-22, while Malaysia whipped Myanmar 84-22.
This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
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