SINGAPORE - Victory was within their grasp when they led 4-3 at half-time.
But Singapore's men's water polo team could not convert their advantage into a famous victory when they lost 10-6 to Iran in the final of the Asian Water Polo Cup at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex on Saturday.
Both teams were unbeaten going into Saturday's game, played before a boisterous crowd of 300.
Despite taking a 4-3 lead at half-time, the Republic, ranked 24th in the world, were outscored 1-4 by the 19th-ranked Iranians in the third quarter, which ended their hopes of claiming a famous scalp.
Singapore captain Eugene Teo attributed the bad quarter to "basic" errors in defence.
He said: "When we were defending shots from the five-metre line, we should be positioning ourselves between the opponent's shooting hand and the goal.
"It was a basic error, which we also committed during our recent training trip to Hungary."
National coach Lee Sai Meng added that Iran, with bigger players, controlled the match tempo well and went for the kill in the second half.
He said: "They are a very experienced team and were conserving their energy at the start, while we tried to go for the kill in the first half."