SINGAPORE - At the emcee's beckoning, some 600 fans at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Arena broke out into song, singing "Happy Birthday" to national netball player Ang Shiqi.
Moments earlier, the Asian champions had maintained their 100 per cent record in the six-team Netball Nations Cup after posting a 46-41 win over world 16th-ranked Botswana.
It was the first time Singapore, ranked 19th in the world, had beaten an African nation and the result followed the hosts' opening-day victory over Papua New Guinea on Sunday.
"It is the first time I am playing in a tournament on my birthday, but it was just a normal day for me, although the crowd really made it special for me," said Ang, who turned 27 yesterday.
"And, of course, a win against Botswana is the best birthday gift for me."
Singapore coach Ruth Aitken kept the same starting line-up from the Papua New Guinea game and was rewarded when the hosts
ended the first quarter 15-10 ahead.
It was a lead the Republic did not relinquish, although Lin Qingyi and Co were outscored 10-14 in the second period.
Aitken said: "It's the first time we've beaten Botswana, so it's a huge achievement. They kept coming back at us and, while we lost our cool at various times, we managed to keep composed at the right times to finish the game, so I was very proud."
Goal Shooter Charmaine Soh's accuracy saw a marked improvement from Sunday, rising from 69 per cent to 78 per cent.
The result marks the second time the Republic have beaten higher-ranked opposition in this competition, after their win over world No. 17 Papua New Guinea. But both Aitken and Lin have warned their teammates about the complacency bug.
Said Kiwi Aitken: "It is the battle won, not the war. It's a long way to go, we will keep our feet firmly on the ground and look forward to a good game (against Ireland) tomorrow."
This article was first published on December 9, 2014.
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