It could have been a magnificent night for the Singapore men's badminton team, claiming the scalp of regional powerhouses Thailand in the team competition.
Instead, the hosts' challenge fizzled out at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as they eventually lost 2-3 in the semi-final last night.
Yet, the tie began promisingly, as last year's Commonwealth silver medallist Derek Wong smashed his way to a 21-18, 21-19 win over defending men's singles champion Tanongsak Saemsomboonsuk in 31 minutes.
Wong's victory came after a loss to the Thai at the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold quarter-finals in January.
He said: "Today, my attack was quite successful, I was speedier than him and that was how I managed to get the points."
However, the Republic's shuttlers failed to pile on the pressure, as N. Puangpuapech and Bodin Issara pulled a point back for Thailand when they defeated Chayut Triyachart and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta 21-11, 22-20 in the first doubles tie.
The Thais then took the lead after veteran Boonsak Ponsana claimed a hard-fought win over Loh Kean Yew 17-21, 21-18, 21-10 in the second singles.
Loh revealed: "I became too relaxed. I tried to make a comeback in the third set but then I just couldn't focus."
Down 1-2, the Singapore shuttlers battled on, and Terry Hee and Hendra Wijaya defeated Sudket Prapakamol and Pakkawat Vilailak 21-19, 21-16 to lift the hopes of the home supporters.
"We found our chance and went for the shots. We were fearless even though we were down two matches, the support was strong," Hee said.
All hopes were then pinned on 17-year-old debutant Ryan Ng to clinch the last match. However, his rival Suppanyu Avihingsanon proved too strong and he succumbed 14-21, 11-21.
A disconsolate Ng said after his defeat: "I felt that I really let my country down."
Singapore will have to settle for bronze, together with their female compatriots, who lost 0-3 to the Thais earlier yesterday.
The Thai men will face Indonesia in today's final, after the latter fended off Malaysia 3-2, despite the presence of former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the Malaysian ranks.
Lee, returning to the badminton scene after an eight-month ban for doping, won his second singles tie against Firman Abdul Kholik 21-19, 21-10 but Malaysia lost the second doubles and third singles tie to cede the semi-final.
Said Lee: "Because I am not playing alone, the responsibility is heavier. I wanted to win every point for the team."
This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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