S'pore netball stands tall

S'pore netball stands tall
After fighting back from an early deficit, members of Singapore’s victorious netball team celebrate their second successive Asian title after defeating arch rivals Sri Lanka 59-41

SINGAPORE - Fighting back from a six-point deficit in the first quarter, Singapore defeated arch rivals Sri Lanka 59-41 yesterday in the final of the Mission Foods Asian Netball Championship on home soil.

It was the Republic's second successive Asian title and one of their largest victory margins against the four-time champions, whom they beat by a solitary point in the 2012 final.

All the pre-match talk from Sri Lanka had centred on how Singapore needed to stop their 2.06m goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam.

But what they did not bargain for was that they needed to stop not just one but seven Singaporean players in the final at the Sports Hub's OCBC Arena.

The Republic's game plan of defending as a unit all over the court paid off as they recorded a resounding 18-point victory to win their third Asian crown.

Said Singapore coach Ruth Aitken: "Our approach to facing Sri Lanka was about team defence. We couldn't expect our goalkeeper (1.96m tall Chen Lili) to hold off Tharjini alone; we needed every single player in the team to do it."

Her team did just that, as centre Nurul Baizura, wing attacker Kimberly Lim and goal attacker Chen Huifen constantly tracked back to close down Sri Lanka's passing options.

And when the visitors did pass, they found the hosts' defensive trio of Chen, captain Lin Qingyi and goal defender Premila Hirubalan a real handful. The Sri Lankans seemed to have only one game plan - get the ball to Tharjini. But the quicker Singaporeans' mobility and constant harassing forced turnovers.

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