Double strikes for Uganda

SINGAPORE- Dancing to celebratory music after their 52-29 victory over Singapore in yesterday's Nations Cup final, Uganda had the perfect coming-out party to announce their arrival on the international netball stage.

The debutantes, unranked due to a lack of international exposure, dominated the match at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

For a team that were not sure they had secured enough funding to travel here until days before the event, lifting the trophy - and gaining a world ranking that would be announced later - felt all the sweeter.

Said captain and goal-shooter Peace Proscovia after the match: "We are overwhelmed with joy. This puts a smile on our face."

Uganda outscored and outplayed hosts Singapore through all four quarters.

But the Republic at least looked less helpless yesterday than earlier in the week when they were trounced 32-60 in the round-robin stage.

Said national coach Ruth Aitken: "We were really challenged in the first half in terms of getting our flow and attack but we adjusted a lot better after the break."

Singapore, playing their first Nations Cup without stalwart Jean Ng for the first time, were down 12-29 by half time but posted a strong third quarter where they scored 12 times to Uganda's 13.

"It was tough for us to come back from being that far down, but the commitment from the team to finish strongly and bring a great game was just commendable," added Aitken, a New Zealander.

"We contested today, instead of just participating. We're disappointed to have lost the game but the growth we've had as a group is heartening."

While the loss means Singapore lost out on a chance to regain a trophy they last lifted in 2007, the relatively young team can still take heart from their strong performance, ahead of their Asian title defence next September.

The team had earlier crushed continental rivals Sri Lanka 60-43.

Said captain Lin Qingyi: "It is a confidence-booster but a lot of things could change nine months down the road. We just need to keep working on our game and make sure we're polished by that time."

Olivia Flanagan, who was named Singapore's Most Valuable Player yesterday, hopes she will again be part of the line-up.

She said: "I think we've got a really good chance. It's really exciting to be part of the team and I'm really looking forward to working with them for the Asian Championships."

In other matches, Papua New Guinea finished third after beating Sri Lanka 60-48 while Ireland were fourth with a 61-26 victory over the United States.

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