SINGAPORE, Saturday 1st September – It was an action-packed day of netball at the M1 Asian Netball Championships, which saw convincing victories for top contenders Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, while Thailand rounded off Day 1 with a win over Philippines.
The opening game of the M1 Asian Netball Championships saw Singapore take on Brunei, with Singapore dominating from start to finish for a commanding 68-19 victory.
Goal Shooter Lee Pei Shan, who is competing in her first Asian Netball Championships, impressed right from the first whistle, scoring the first two goals of the game.
Team Singapore raced out to a 3-0 lead before Brunei’s Goal Attack Nur Hafizah Binti Haji Abdul Sidek sunk in their first goal of the match. It was a convincing display by Team Singapore in the first quarter (19-4), with Wing Attack Kimberly Lim punching through and connecting easily at the top of the circle before feeding the ball in to Lee with much ease.
There were a number of changes in the second quarter for Singapore, with coach Natalie Milicich giving her young players Toh Kai Wei and Ayshath Zaseela the chance to compete in their first Asian Netball Championships match.
Singapore’s consistent play continued in the second quarter (20-4), pushing out to a 6-0 lead before Brunei put in their first goal for the quarter. Tan Xin Yi came on to replace Lee midway through the quarter to earn her first cap for the nation, and sunk her first goal for Singapore right away.
The second half of the match was a much tighter affair, with Brunei limiting Singapore to 15 and 14 goals in the third and fourth quarter respectively, while scoring 6 goals in the third quarter – their highest number of goals in a quarter for the match – and 5 in the final quarter. It was a top display from another Asian Netball Championships debutant Goal Keeper SIndhu Nair, who made several key intercepts and deflections throughout the final two quarters.
On her team’s display, Brunei coach Jane Searle said: “I like that we came up first against Singapore. We’ve only been together for 6 weeks, so we need to rise to that level of netball. Singapore played great netball today and we just need to rise to that level and on some occasions we were not consistent enough. Full credit to them, they played a great game.”
Singapore coach Milicich remarked on the young shooters’ first time on court and how Singapore can build on their first game effort: “I think they were both nervous so it’s always nice to get their first game out of the way and I think they will grow in confidence as we build into the week. Their shooting precision was very very good today so I’m very proud of how they both started this competition.’
“For tomorrow’s game, it will obviously be quite tough. We’ve been building on our connections and our combinations so that no matter who’s on the court, we can keep up the intensity.”
In the second match of the day, Malaysia put on a clinical display against minnows Japan for a resounding 88-13 win, asserting their M1 Asian Netball Championships title credentials.
Despite a new-look defensive lineup, the Malaysians limited Japan to 5 goals or less, per quarter throughout the match. On the other end, a strong attacking display saw Malaysia score over 20 goals for the first three quarters. However, a tighter defensive setup from Japan and below average shooting percentage of 62% in the final quarter limited Malaysia to 17 goals.
On her team’s performance, Malaysia coach Choo Kon Lee said: “I think the girls played pretty well. For our upcoming games, we will need to minimize our mistakes, deliver more accurate passes and pick up on our shooting percentage.”
The third game of the day saw Sri Lanka overpower the youthful Chinese Taipei team with an impressive 137-5 scoreline, with the Sri Lankans dictating the match to the end. It was an impressive display from the Sri Lankan shooters, who put up an 88% shooting average for the match.
Sri Lanka coach Thilaka Jinadasa was impressed with her team’s commanding display and hopes the win will give her team confidence to secure the M1 Asian Netball Championships title, and said: “We made a lot of substitutions this game to see how they connect with each other and worked mainly on our strategies.‘
“We’re really looking forward to getting the Asian Netball Championships crown back. We are the four-time champions out of the 11 tournaments, so we are really working hard. I believe we have a really strong chance with this team of 12 players.”
The final match of the day was an adrenaline-charged matchup between Thailand and the Philippines, with the former taking the win by more than 30 goals, for a final score of 71-36.
It was a much improved team performance from Thailand since the 2017 SEA Games which was demonstrated in the first three quarters with a score difference of 10 or more per quarter. It was a much tighter contest in the final quarter between both teams, with Thailand winning the final quarter by just two goals (13-11).
Head Coach Chng Li Li said, “We’re rebuilding a new team, especially our midcourt so we’re still getting the flow and the timing right. Hopefully as the games go on, we can progress as a team.”
Day 2 of the M1 Asian Netball Championships will kick off with Malaysia taking on Maldives at 1pm, followed by Sri Lanka against India. Singapore will then take on Pakistan at 5pm, and the final game of the day will see Thailand match up against Hong Kong at 7pm.