SINGAPORE: Singapore have won the 8th Asian Netball Championship.
They beat hosts and defending champions Sri Lanka 48—47 to clinch their second Asian title. Singapore last won the title in 2005 when the country hosted the event.
Sri Lanka had won the competition on four previous occasions.
Earlier, Malaysia beat Hong Kong 56—27 to take third spot.
Both Sri Lanka and Singapore were unbeaten in their route to the final. In fact, none of the teams, except for Malaysia, has given them a close competition.
Jean Ng, the captain of Team Singapore, said: "It’s really (about) who brings the ’A’ game and how far we go in our training programmes in order to be on top. But it certainly bodes well for us to have won Asian Champs twice in the last three editions and heading into hosting it in Singapore, I think it will really give us that home ground advantage in securing another win."
The match started at 6.00pm Singapore time with the Sri Lankans settling faster and leading the first few minutes by 5—2. However, Singapore managed to catch up and led 13—12 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was evenly matched with Singapore leading by a goal (26—25) going into the half—time break.
Sri Lanka reduced the one—goal deficit in the third quarter with the quarter ending 36—36. It was a nail—biting finish, with the match tied at 42—all with 8 minutes remaining.
Team Singapore were leading by 48—47 going into the last 24 seconds of the match. It was then Singapore’s centre pass and the team held on strongly and inched out their opponents by a narrow goal to clinch the winner.
The match ended 48—47 in Singapore’s favour and Singapore are once again the Asian champions.
National coach Kate Carpenter, who was also the coach for the 2005 Asian Champs team, said: "It was such a hard—fought match where every opportunity counted and I’m really proud of the players’ achievement and I think it was one of the best matches that I’ve been involved in for Singapore."
Jessica Tan, newly—elected president of Netball Singapore and a Member of Parliament for East Coast GRC, was delighted with the win. She said: "First of all, I would like to congratulate our team for their success in the Asian Netball Championship. Well done girls, for bringing the title back to Singapore! I am very proud of our team and I’m pleased that all their hard work and training have paid off."
The victory capped off a week of good news for Singapore as the Republic has also recently won the bid to host the 9th Asian Netball Championship in 2014.
The event will also be the qualifier for the 2015 World Netball Championships which will be held in Sydney, Australia. The top two teams from the Asian Championship will qualify for the prestigious international competition.
Netball Singapore plans to hold the 2014 event at the Singapore Sports Hub multi—purpose indoor arena (MPIA), which is due for completion in March 2014.
Jessica Tan, looking ahead to the 2014 event, said: "Now that we are the Asian Champions, the pressure will be on us in retaining the title on our home ground, come 2014. Besides our aim in organising a world—class event, we will also want to prepare our team for the competition and put on a strong performance for our fans."
The next competition on the Singapore national team’s plate is the Netball Nations Cup in December. The annual event will be held at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall from December 2—8. The event will be a good chance for the younger players to shine as the Singapore team looks to rebuild for the 2014 Asian Championship.
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