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Netball - 12. December 2011.

Victorious Fiji pushed all way by Singapore

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Every match a thriller in the final day of the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup

It was finals galore at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall in Singapore today with
the final standings in the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup being
determined and Fiji* *lifting the trophy for the first time after an
enthralling fight against hosts Singapore.

Playing out the results in reverse order, *Papua New Guinea* (PNG) went up
against *Sri Lanka* for the second time in less than 24 hours with a
reversal of fortunes this time as Sri Lanka got their first win of the
competition to secure fifth position on the table (71-73).

Despite winning three of the four quarters, a ten goal margin in the second
period to give Sri Lanka a 32-38 advantage was just too much for the Pepes
to bounce back from. Sri Lanka came out fighting and looked the fresher,
hungrier side throughout while the injury-hit PNG squad looked tired as
they have played most of the week with only nine players to rotate.

Co-Captain for PNG, Lua Rikis tried to convey the teams’ disappointment.
She said, “Really disappointing. We beat them yesterday, I don’t know if we
got complacent or thought it was going to be easy but they wanted the win
and they went out hard. We were too relaxed.

“I moved to Goal Attack, I think if made a difference, we reduced the
deficit to three goals so I think we should have done that in the second
quarter. It’s been the nine of trying to pull it all together; there have
been seven of us playing the entire last three games so our bodies are a
bit tired. But it was good. It is the first or second internationals for
most of our girls. The different teams have been a great learning
experience. It’s been good and I have enjoyed it.”

Sri Lankan Captain Tharjini Sivalignam was delighted with their first win
saying, “I am very happy for our new players. Yesterday our team wasn’t as
well prepared. Our defence was better today and we played well under
pressure today.”

*Malaysia *were looking to follow their Asian compatriots footsteps by
reversing their group-stage result against their opponents *Namibia *and
take third place in the competition. They did just that with a 52-47 win.

On Tuesday, Namibia came from behind to win by only two points so Coach
March Myburgh was hoping her girls would take control of this one early to
ease some of the pressure but things didn’t quite go as planned. Three
points down at the half (25-22) they were still trailing after the third
quarter (40-35) and though they pulled back to within one point at stages
of the last 15 minutes of end-to-end action, they just couldn’t push ahead
for a repeat victory.

Namibian Captain Jatjinda Kambatuku said, “We were really looking forward
to winning this game and finishing third in the tournament but tough luck,
we lost. We made too many mistakes – dropped balls, missed passes. When we
got the ball from them we were rushing to the goal and losing it by rushing
things.

“We almost did it but due to our mistakes they came back at us. The week
has been great though. We’ve been enjoying Singapore and the games have
been very good. Last year we came fifth and this year we are fourth so for
us that is a great improvement.”

Malaysian Captain Yati Akhtar Mahtar said, “The result is beyond our
target. We wanted to beat two teams so we are very happy with the
achievement. My teammates played a very safe game, controlled the ball and
not too many silly mistakes. That’s why we won this game.”

Toa Payoh Sports Hall was a frenzy of cheers and screams from the opening
pass of the final match between *Fiji* and *Singapore* to determine this
year’s Nations Cup Champion.

Singapore, as expected, came out firing and held Fiji to a 14-11 lead after
the first quarter. The fast-paced play continued and the world number
sevens got into a scoring-stride and finished the half 28-18 ahead.

Singapore threw everything they had at Fiji after the break and won the
quarter 10-13, thanks to some confident shooting from Charmaine Soh (GS)
and support play from Chen Huifen (GA).

In the final quarter the crowd hardly drew breath and willed the hosts to
rein Fiji in but the Pacific Islanders stayed strong and took the quarter
13-11 for a final score of 51-42.

Winning Coach Una Rokoura clutched the trophy as she spoke to the media.
She said, “It was an awesome game. We knew Singapore were not going to be
easy, they wanted to win. We had a few tricks up our sleeves and the second
quarter was our best to give us lead.

“I told the girls that they had to imagine the second half of the game as
the last 30 minutes of their life. They put in that extra mile and I am
very proud of them. We have great unity and they gave everything. If you
give an inch to Singapore they will take it so we had to play hard.

“It’s been a great week, we thank Netball Singapore – it’s one of the best
events we’ve been to and even the supporters were very kind to us.
Hopefully we can come back next year.”

Singapore’s Coach Kate Carpenter was pleased with the performance. She
concluded, “It was a good final and Fiji are a strong team and I thought we
played well. Maybe just not good enough against this Fiji side, they were
just too good.

“Happy with the progress we’ve made since some retirements after the World
Championships so it will be exciting for Asian Championships next year if
we can keep this group and keep working hard.”

An award for Most Valuable Player from each team was recognised during the
prize giving.

The following players collected the trophies:
Fiji: Unaisi Kubunameca
Singapore: Chen Huifen
Malaysia: Nur Salfarina Muhammed Amin
Namibia: Anna Kasper
PNG: Lua Rikis
Sri Lanka: JAVP Jayasooriya

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