Day two of the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup produced yet more thrills
and spills at Toa Payoh Sports Hall in Singapore and the hosts maintained
their unbeaten record much to the pleasure of the home supporters.
The day started with an extremely tight match between *Namibia* and *
Malaysia*- both sides looking for their first victory in the competition.
Namibia were awash with emotion after the final whistle as they came out on
top (44-42) but only edged ahead in the final few minutes.
Namibia played the first three quarters with their youngest player, 16 year
old Nelandre Mostert as Goal Shooter, ably supported by Captain Jatjinda
Kambatuku and they racked-up just 27 goals after a lot of pressure on them
from the defence. At the other end of the court, Noor Aitkah Mat Salleh
jostled for her shooting position and with her goal attack to assist,
they’d nudged ahead by eight goals with one quarter to play (27-35).
Only four minutes to play and Namibia took the lead for the first time all
game (41-40) and held on tight to see out the win.
Coach Marcha Myburgh was overcome at their achievement. As the lowest
ranking side in the tournament, this was a major stepping stone for them.
She said, “Everything just came together at the end. The girls stayed so
focused and they stuck to their plan. They didn’t pick up the speed. That
was the problem at the beginning; they tried to play at the pace of
“We were still trying some playing combinations today and the girls are
still adjusting to the different surface we’re playing on here. At home we
play on more of a cement-type surface that has less spring but more give on
landing. This is hard for the girls’ legs but they’re getting used to it.
“We are playing Sri Lanka tomorrow. We saw their first game and I think if
we stick to our game plan, like we did today then we have a good chance.
Winning today – I can’t tell you what it means. For us, this whole
tournament is about ranking so this means such a lot. To Namibia but also
for me- it’s my first victory as team coach.”
Malaysian Coach, Norizan Rajab, tried to explain the reasons behind their
second straight-defeat, “I think my girls played better in yesterday’s
game. They had a problem with momentum, they weren’t controlling the ball
and our shooters were not performing. They were not communicating on court
and we have a few injury problems.
“For tomorrow, we need to work hard with our shooters to make it more
consistent and change a few of our attacking strategies. I hope we can play
*Singapore* were on a high from yesterday’s victory over Sri Lanka when
they met *Papua New Guinea (PNG) *– also feeling confident after their win
over Namibia – and the hosts continued their winning streak with a 54-36
The shooting combination of Chen Huifen (GA) and Cassandra Soh (GS) worked
a treat, the mid court players worked hard to deliver good balls for the
on-target pair to convert into points.
With a nine point advantage at half time (27-18) Singapore dipped slightly
in the third period allowing PNG to make up some ground and outscored
Singapore 8-11. A more confident and composed Singapore returned to court
for the final 15 minutes and took control winning the last phase
Cassandra Soh felt she had a better performance than day one; “We had great
support from the feeders and got some good turnovers. It was a better game
for me, I felt good out there.”
Co-Captain Jean Ng added, “Looking at the way things are progressing I
think we are gaining a lot of confidence along the way. We’ll take one game
at a time and tomorrow is a different style of play again so we will have
to adjust. But if we can win again tomorrow then I would say we’re on track
but right now we still have a long way to go.”
PNG lost their top goal shooter in the first half to injury and coach Pole
Kassman felt this was the turning point of the game.
She said, “It was a very physical match. Not very happy with the result but
we lost our goal shooter. We lost the game rather than they won it.
“This will be our last loss. The girls need to pick themselves up again and
go forward. We always believe that we’ll come back but we have a young
team and towards the end the adrenaline wore off and they panicked and
realised they were playing an international match. We have back-up
shooters; we just have to work harder.”
*Fiji *showed their class in the final match as they defeated *Sri
Lanka*24-81. Ahead by 27 points at halftime, they maintained their
dominance mid-court looking a vastly improved side from their opening match.
Sri Lanka’s key player and Captain Tharjini Sivalignam was given few
opportunities to get points back due to the athleticism and strategic play
of the Fijians who blocked the ball before it could reach the opposition’s
shooting circle where the danger lay.
Fiji Coach Una Rokoura was pleased with the progress. She said, “It was
good to see that we’d really planned our game well against Sri Lanka. We
analysed their game yesterday and we contained them. I am glad that the
girls stuck to the game plan.
“The girls kept their cool. Our aim was for discipline, to cut down on the
infringement errors and we did that.
“Papua New Guinea has some new players that we haven’t seen before but
we’ll analyse their game tonight and tomorrow morning and look at their
game and see what we can work out from there.”
Fiji start off proceedings on the third day of action against Papua New
Guinea at 4pm, followed by Malaysia battling Asian rivals Sri Lanka at 6pm
and Singapore go for their third win against African nation Namibia at 8pm.
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Namibia 44–42 Malaysia (HT 17-20)
Singapore 54-36 Papua New Guinea* *(HT 27-18)**
Sri Lanka 24-81 Fiji* *(HT41-14)**
*Monday 05 Dec
*Singapore 73 – 36 Sri Lanka* *(HT 34-17)*
*Namibia 48-55 Papua New Guinea* *(HT 20-30)*
*Fiji 61-37 Malaysia* *(HT 27-19)
photos Janos Schmidt