Singapore, .For the first time in the Nations Cup history, the trophy headed overseas tonight as Papua New Guinea (PNG) defeated Botswana in the final of the Fisher & Paykel Nations Cup with reigning champions Singapore watching on from the stands.
Samoa and Sri Lanka got the final day underway in the match to determine 3rd and 4th positions. Samoa had overcome their opponents 75-58 on Wednesday night and repeated their effective strategy to overcome the height and different playing style. They were five ahead after the first quarter and extended their lead to 39-28 at halftime.
Nonu Robertson, GK for Samoa played a clever game, hanging off the 206cm shooter and timing her interceptions perfectly, rattling Sivalingam slightly to give her a 95 percent score (58 from 61 attempts).
At the other end, Malu Faasavalu (GS) and Shirin Chang (GA) racked up 37 and 34 goals respectively to keep the Pacific Islanders and Nations Cup rookies out in front, and forcing Sri Lanka into some drastic positional changes in the second quarter to try and disrupt their flow.
Samoan Coach, Linda Vagana, said “We really used this trip as a development tour and we have developed with each match.
“The Samoan squad is a mix of young girls and a couple of seniors and it has been a great experience for all of them. They have managed to put a lot of things from practice into the games and after a slow start we really picked up in the second half of this week.
“Papua New Guinea was probably our toughest opponent this week but I wish we had been able to have another crack at them.”
The ten-goal advantage that Samoa gained in the second period was too much for Sri Lanka to recover from but the remainder of the match was tight with eight the difference after the third (55-47) and the match finished 71-60 giving Samoa third spot in the competition.
After a KidzNet exhibition match to entertain the supporters and showcase the future talent in Singapore, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Botswana ran out for the grand finale.
PNG were favourites going into the game after winning 57-49 in their group match on Monday. Captain of PNG, Mona-Lisa Leka had said last night that they “would not take their opponents lightly as each team in the competition had improved with every game, Botswana being no exception.”
Both teams started on equal terms but PNG quickly started to dominate and with a late flurry of goals at the end of the first quarter, they went ahead 18-11. Yvonne Magutau held centre court for PNG and combined with Leka in WA to supply their consistent shooter with plenty opportunities, while Botswana was unable to capitalise on all their chances.
There was no change in the lead at halftime (31-24) and the game failed to provide the spectacle the supporters had been hoping for. Perhaps the long week and four intense matches leading up to the finals had taken their toll on both squads. They were less vocal however the aggression from both sides was there throughout and there was plenty running left in the legs of the athletic Botswana team.
It was not until the final ten minutes that Botswana lifted their game. They began to make their shots count and closed down PNG to within two points. PNG looked tense and for the first time were threatened with losing the lead. They replied by playing the final few minutes with passion and clung on for the victory 55-53. If only the first three quarters had held the same excitement.
Pole Kassman, Coach of the victorious PNG side was delighted with their performance this week. “I am overwhelmed and extremely proud of my team. We did not expect to win the whole tournament and it was a tough final against Botswana.
“Netball is our national sport, nearly every second person in the country plays netball and this victory will be great for the sport back home. We hope that it will encourage more money and sponsors to the game so we can continue to develop.”
The most valuable player award for PNG went to Maleta Roberts who has been supported all week by her parents. She said, “My parents are my support and they love the sport as much as I do. This was a really good win for us. Botswana was a tough challenge for us and came back at the end to make us work hard for our win.”
Botswana captain, Kelebogile Mocuminyane talked about her experience in Singapore saying, “It was a rough game out there today but a great experience for all of our team. We hope we will get the chance to get invited back to this Nations Cup again in the future as we need more international exposure to improve our rankings and give us more practice ahead of the 2011 World Netball Championships.”
It has been an enthralling week at Toa Payoh Sports Hall where five nations have battled it out in a netball competition which brought together countries in the world’s top-20 rankings and showed that netball around the world is growing in strength year-on-year.
Each team arrived in Singapore as an unknown entity, bringing developmental squads as they all look ahead to key calendar events including the World Youth Netball Championships, Asian Championships and ultimately the 2011 World Netball Championships which Singapore are hosting.
The Nations Cup is an important stepping stone to 2011, not only for Singapore as host and organiser, but for the visiting countries as they increase their international exposure and give younger players the chance to step up from club level. It is a chance to test themselves against different playing styles, travel as a team and train overseas, and focus on their game as the crowds roar around the stands.
This is the third year that Singapore has hosted the Nations Cup and the first time that Fisher & Paykel have been title sponsor. Richard St. John, GM, Sales and Marketing, Asia, Fisher & Paykel attended the final day in Singapore and talked about the company’s long-term commitment to supporting netball here.
He said, “Fisher & Paykel have been involved with Netball Singapore since 2006 and we are delighted to have continued out support as title sponsors of the Nations Cup this week. We feel the synergy between the two organisations in our goals and hunger for continued development and success. This makes for a great partnership and we hope our support can help to further the growth of the sport in Singapore.”
Day 1: Singapore 63 – 66 Sri Lanka
1st:17-13; HT: 32-31; 3rd:47-45; FT: 63-66
Samoa 34 – 49 Botswana
1st:11-17; HT: 19-19; 3rd:28-38; FT: 34-49
Day 2: Samoa 41 – 48 Singapore
1st:7-12; HT: 20-26; 3rd:32-37; FT: 41-48
Botswana 49 – 57 Papua New Guinea
1st: 15-14; HT: 24-28; 3rd: 35-44; FT: 49-57
Day 3: Samoa 49 – 54 Papua New Guinea
1st: 14-16; HT: 29-26; 3rd: 37-41; FT: 49-54
Sri Lanka 61 – 68 Botswana
1st: 16-16; HT: 33-32; 3rd: 47-51; FT: 61-68
Day 4: Singapore 48 – 67 Papua New Guinea
1st: 7-18; HT: 18-42; 3rd: 31-55; FT: 48-67
Samoa 75 – 58 Sri Lanka
1st: 18-14; HT: 37-30; 3rd: 55-47; FT: 75-58
Day 5: Papua New Guinea 69 – 64 Sri Lanka
1st: 18-18; HT: 38-33; 3rd: 52-49; FT: 69-64
Singapore 45 – 54 Botswana
1st: 13-12; HT: 24-28; 3rd: 34-42; FT: 45-54
Samoa 71 – 60 Sri Lanka
1st: 20-15; HT: 39-28; 3rd:55-47; FT: 71-60
Papua New Guinea 55–53 Botswana
1st: 18-11; HT: 31-24; 3rd: 42-35; FT: 55-53
1st: Papua New Guinea
4th: Sri Lanka