The M1 Nations Cup 2019 kicked off with an action-packed match that saw Singapore and Namibia share the spoils in a nail biting 54-54 contest.
Singapore opened up the scoring with Captain Charmaine Soh setting the tempo to get off to an explosive start on day 1 of the tournament. Namibia returning to the Nations Cup after a 7 year hiatus responded in impressive fashion and finished the second quarter leading 23-25.
Head coach Natalie Milicich team talk gave Singapore a lift for the 3rd quarter with both Charmaine and Toh Kai Wei scoring 5 points between them in the first 5 minutes to get both sides on 28 points apiece. Namibia however did not falter and used their competitive tendency to keep on Singapore’s toes throughout, a point in the dying second from Namibia put them back on track into the final quarter, with one point away on 39-38.
Both teams final push in the last quarter saw end to end action with the fantastic crowd supporting every move throughout. Once the final buzzer sounded, a fair result was concluded with both sides showing unwavering drive and explosive skills to set up an exciting 6 days of netball action.
Coach of Singapore, Natalie Milicich “I was anticipating a really tough match! I mean they play a beautiful African style. It’s a style that we’re not used to play. So I was really proud of how we stuck to task. It’s really hard when you’re playing with a different style to actually bring your own flavour to the game and I feel like we did that really well today.
So for tomorrow’s game, we’ve done a little bit of revision on Botswana already. I think it’s really important that we know what their strengths are but it is also important to stick to our strengths. So tomorrow we just want to be a little bit more efficient when we do have the ball. It’s really important that we get it through to our shooters and I thought today we showed real patience in doing that. As I said, there was just a couple of critical moments that we possibly could’ve gotten out with an extra couple of goals. I am happy with the draw and I’m really proud of how the girls have played.”
Captain of Singapore, Charmaine Soh I think the team started very well, they did a great job and everyone was super on for the game but we had a dip in the middle during the second quarter but Coach made a change and I am glad everyone stood out again and rose up to the challenge again. I am really proud of them, every single one of them.
Coach Natalie prepared us well for such high-pressure scenarios. Just this morning we were training with the scenario that we had 10 seconds left and we had to make a tie, the exact situation just now!
I think in future games we need to steady down our passes and to focus throughout, I think we lost that focus a bit in the middle. For tomorrow we will focus more, concentrate and stay strong.”
Coach of Namibia, Julene Meyer “I think it was a good game, it was a challenging game and we’re not on top of our game yet. We’re still lacking rhythm and we’re still lacking the sharpness and that game exposure but I’m sure as the week develops, we’ll work on those things and we will improve. I wasn’t quite happy with the rhythm and I wasn’t quite happy with the way we executed the game plan. So, we’ve got a lot of things to improve on. Fortunately, we will get another opportunity to do that, so that will be good.” Co-Captain of Namibia, Jatjinda Kambatuku “We are a new team, we really have a lot of young ones in the team, it was a great performance on our side. We did not expect to play this close, we have the ability to take a win against Singapore so hopefully we are going to play them in the play offs and we will definitely win against them.”
MATCH REPORT: IRELAND VS PAPUA NEW GUINEA
FINAL SCORE: 41-38
The second match of day 1 saw Ireland beating Papua New Guinea 41 – 38, in another closely fought match.
Papua New Guinea fielding the youngest team at this year’s tournament started the game very strongly, showing Ireland their powerful presence on the court which led the first quarter 8-15. For the next two quarters Ireland responded and started to close the gap, with their shooters Janice Hynes and Frances Duffy taken their opportunities and lead the team into the 4th quarter with a 31-30 lead.
The final 15 minutes saw competitive offenses from both teams, and Papua New Guinea showed their resilience in responding to Ireland’s continuous threat on the circle. However the last two minutes of the game, Ireland added the pressure and squeezed the victory, walking away with an impressive win heading in to day 2.
Captain of Ireland, Niamh Reynolds “I am so proud of the girls, Papua New Guinea is an excellent team and we have played them many times and have never won before but we worked really hard on our fitness and we knew that if we could just stay in our game, we could pull through in the end.
I think there were patches of the game that we let them get a run of goals. We may not have gotten it back but may not always be the case so we really need to work on staying in the game.
When we were more patient with the ball, particularly an attack, it works better when we used our triangles and use our front drives that worked a lot better when we rush things that’s when we actually lose the ball off the backline.”
Coach of Papua New Guinea, Ani Iamo “It was a good game, I think we gave it away in the end and I think our fitness level started taking a toll in the last quarter. However otherwise, it was good. We’ll sit down and talk about it, about what our strategy is going to be for tomorrow.”
Co-Captain of Papua New Guinea, Courtney Abel “I think we gave it our all. There are definitely a lot of things we need to work on, bearing in mind that this is a new team. There are a lot of under-21 girls who are just making their debut. So, I think we did well for a such a young team.
I think we will take every game as it comes and we will learn as we go, so that’s what we’re planning to work on, which is learning as we go.”
MATCH REPORT: BOTSWANA VS COOK ISLANDS
FINAL SCORE: 47-54
The final match of day 1 saw Botswana versus the 2017 Nations Cup Champions, Cook Islands. Continuing the theme of closely fought battles, match 3 was a very intense end to an entertaining Sunday evening here at the OCBC Arena.
The first quarter set the tone for the match with Cook Islands going into the break leading Botswana 9-14. The next two quarters saw the points start to tally up with Botswana’s agility and determination withstanding and keeping at bay Cook Islands’ constant scoring threat.
After a hard fought battle, Cook Islands continued to press with their Captain Luciana Nicholas leading the team into their first win in the 2019 Nations Cup campaign.
Botswana player, Francinah Eyman
I think it was a great start on our side, not a result of what we have expected but I think we exemplified great character on court and we have done the best we could because we had very difficult circumstances coming to this game and I think the girls outdid themselves. I think we showed really great character despite circumstances that we were not able to control and we are going to do our best for the upcoming games.”
Coach of Cook Islands, Anna Andrews-Tasola
“It was a very challenging game for us. Botswana arrived this morning and they came out firing and we were just really excited to play against the African nation because they have a different style and they are really skilful and athletic but I think for us, we’ve just been here a little bit longer so our preparation was better and probably got us over the line today. I’m really excited about this week & playing in Singapore!”