Double joy for Singapore

Singapore's netballers marked the third day of action at the Mission Foods Nations Cup with two milestones yesterday.

They recorded their first victory in the week-long tournament, beating Chinese Taipei 71-20 at the OCBC Arena Hall 1. The win came after two straight losses to Papua New Guinea (43-44) and Northern Ireland (35-46).

The victory was especially sweet for team captain Micky Lin, who claimed her 100th cap despite playing only one quarter.

Said the 30-year-old Hall of Famer whose career has spanned 11 years: "It's amazing (to have 100 international caps). It's something not a lot of netballers have the opportunity to gain."

"I feel privileged to have the opportunity to do this and especially on home ground, having the support of friends and family around me. I'm really glad for this opportunity" she added.

While the win was lopsided, coming against debutants Chinese Taipei, national head coach Ruth Aitken welcomed it, saying: "It was hard work the first two days.

"We certainly didn't have rhythm and we couldn't find our mojo.

"But, hopefully, we have turned a corner now and we remember what makes us a really good team and it's about playing for each other and just getting out there and having confidence and having fun."

That boost in morale will come in handy when they face world No. 19 Botswana today.

"We will have to be prepared for a physical game against Botswana so we need to take the confidence from today and come out firing tomorrow," said Aitken.

The win may have been a timely and fitting one for the hosts but it was the match between Papua New Guinea and Botswana yesterday that stole the show.

The game was a see-saw affair for the first three quarters. Both teams were level (13-13) at the end of the first quarter with Botswana seizing a two-goal advantage by the end of the second (28-26).

But the lead was short-lived as, by the end of the third, the Papuans had taken a one-goal lead (39-38).

In the fourth, they clearly had more left in the tank and made that count, eventually running out 54-49 winners.

The late push was led by 1.90m-tall goal shooter Tiata Baldwin, who shot five goals in the last quarter to finish with 28 goals on 76 per cent shooting.

But it was not so much the 25-year-old's shooting percentage that led her team to victory but her mere presence in the goal circle.

Said the Papuans' head coach Unaisi Soroinikula: "When we have height, we have to strategise on how it can help the game."

"We had a few good balls going in the circle ... and once she (Baldwin) started running, it really opened things up," added Soroinikula, especially for team-mate and goal attacker Lua Rikis, who scored 26 goals on 87 per cent shooting.

In the day's first match, Northern Ireland beat the Singapore Invitation team 50-29 to also remain undefeated.

This article was first published on December 16, 2015.
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