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M1 Nations Cup 2019 Day 5 Match Reports


FINAL SCORE: 54 – 47 
The first match of Day Five at the M1 Nations Cup 2019 saw the battle of the two African sides at this year’s tournament – Namibia versus Botswana. The match was a very close contest but after 60 minutes Namibia triumphed over Botswana 54 – 47. 
The pressure was on for both sides to continue their winning streak with the team’s heading into the match with three wins a piece. Namibia was off to a solid start as they took the lead early in the first quarter. However Botswana did not allow that for long, capitalising on unforced errors in the second and third quarter, heading into the break with a 6 point deficit at 39-33.  The last 15 minutes saw increased physicality with both sides continuing to get on the score board. Botswana however could not control Namibia’s speed and drive into the final third and succumbed to their second loss of the tournament from opening day, losing 54-47. The Namibian’s are now the first team confirmed in tomorrow’s final. 
Coach of Namibia, Julene Meyer “I think it was better but I do think if we play in the finals tomorrow we do have to be sharper. We are still making too many unforced errors and the discipline on the turnover is not strong enough yet.  
Botswana, they are a very good team, we know each other’s style very well so it was a very tough game and they’ve got brilliant players so it is to be expected that things don’t go perfectly as planned, especially against a tough team like them. We are happy that we get to go through after coming up against them.” 
Coach of Botswana, Sithulile Mlotshwa “I would say the exhaustion was showing because we did not start well after trailing. When it was perfect for us to hold onto the game, our concentration lapsed. I would say mentally we were not ready, we were defeated and our mental strength was weak.  
We want to just play with our hearts out in the last match, stick to basic defence and attack, and pass perfectly because we failed to execute our passes well today and Namibia took advantage of those balls.” 

FINAL SCORE: 34 – 45 
The match between Ireland and Cook Islands was the second match of Day Five which saw Cook Islands beating Ireland 34 – 45 to give the Islander’s their third win of the tournament. 
The first quarter was a fairly even affair with Ireland’s shooters combining well to secure points on the board, heading into the break 6 points behind. For the next two quarters (2nd & 3rd) the Irish hung on and showed courage in their man-management of the opposition, reducing their deficit to 5 points heading into the final quarter at 28-33.   
The team-talk between the 3rd and 4th quarter gave the Islander’s the lift they needed and a number of wayward passes from the Irish which allowed them to extend their lead with Alanna Smith (GS) scoring 34 of her 42 attempts (81%) on goal. As the clock counted down, the Cook Islands finished the match comfortably with 45 points to Ireland’s 34. This is Ireland’s third loss of the tournament and they will face Papua New Guinea in the 5th vs 6th match tomorrow. 
Coach of Ireland, Joan Young “Overall it has been a disappointing performance but with some real highlights. We’ve been in every game and to a certain extent it’s been the unforced errors that have cost us at times. The girls have had targets all week to set and obviously they are working in new units, and there are some young players on the court who actually have been a real find and pleasure to watch. They are getting there and it’s just that final part to consolidate when we get into the game and consolidate our position and stay in there. PNG will be a tough game, it was our first game and we need to bring everything to the court. More consistency, a little more patience, if we can do that we have every chance to win that game.” 
Coach of Cook Islands, Anna Andrews-Tasola “What I was most excited about is that our defence pressure came on really well today and they had a great game. We knew that Ireland was going to be really tough. They are very experienced and they’ve played a few tournaments this year, so we didn’t take them lightly at all. We are really glad we had a great defensive effort today.” 


The last match of Day Five saw Singapore play an action-packed round against Papua New Guinea, with the home side securing a 57-47 win and securing their place in the final against Namibia.  
Singapore, looking for their third win of the tournament started the game energetically, and were not swayed when faced with a serious looking injury of key playmaker Kimberley Lim (WA) in the first 8 minutes of the match. Not to be pushed aside, Papua New Guinea were on the hunt for their first win of the tournament and also started strongly taking 12 points into the break (13-12).  The fast pace continued in the next two quarters as Singapore aimed to push ahead and secure a bigger gap in the score line. The final 5 minutes of the third quarter saw Singapore put into action this game plan and they headed into the final 15 minutes leading 43-29. 
With a lively home crowd cheering their every pass, Singapore started to dominate the match. The substitution of Captain Charmaine Soh (GA) received a well-deserved round of applause and the team closed the match with 57 points to the Pepe’s 47. The last time Singapore was in a Nations Cup Final was in 2014 where they were runners up to Samoa. 
Coach of Singapore, Natalie Milicich “I think that making the finals is always really exciting and it shows the manner of work we’ve been doing. We’ve had a big turnaround from having some really tough matches at the World Cup and just trying to find ourselves at the beginning of the week, even though we weren’t quite getting the results. 
Losing Kimberly at the start, we really had to dig deep and look at our structures and combinations. She’s so key to us, so losing a key player took us long to switch over what we did. I’ve always told the girls the crowd is our 8th player – they’re behind us and we know we can do a little bit more because our supporters are here.  
It’ll be a tough match tomorrow. It’s really important we are nice and relaxed going into the final so we’ll enjoy this win for a little while and focus on tomorrow in the morning. I think the players are in a place where they have a lot of confidence, and they know that even if something happens we have a back-up plan – which is what we proved today. We haven’t won this tournament in a long time so we will try to win it.” 
Captain of Singapore, Charmaine Soh “I think it’s the best feeling ever. We were pretty down after the World Cup and not in high spirits. A lot of things contributed to us winning like our psychology talks, team bonding sessions, video analysis. I think all that really contributed to the team’s morale and bonding. In that sense all our efforts were worth it. We made it, like finally, from losing all the games, we thought like “oh no, we cannot win anymore” to winning most of our games. I’m so proud of them. 
I would say that we wanted to win but we weren’t expecting the finals. We were just thinking, take each game at a time. Whatever comes, we’ll just handle it together, face it together and then whatever outcome we just need to take it.  
Since we’re in the finals we need to go all out and do our best. We need more communication because when the team gets quiet we tend to lose the ball. So it’s more of getting each other refocused and connect with one another on the court.” 
Coach of Papua New Guinea, Ani Iamo “Our preparations were not too good before coming here. Yes, we needed to maintain our form all the way throughout the game but our fitness levels are letting us down. During the 3rd and 4th quarter I started making changes to give the others a breather, Singapore is a good team. They beat Cook Islands yesterday and they’re a better team so we’re hoping to just get in there and get the work done and make sure that we win. We need to get a win before we go home, it’s time to deliver tomorrow.”