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NC2015 Finals: Botswana Vs Singapore

The second match of the final day at the Mission Foods Nations Cup kicked off with energy levels uncharacteristically lower than usual for both Botswana and Team Singapore.

The first quarter started off with strong defensive pressure by Singapore’s GK Micky Lin intercepting two crucial passes. Despite this, Botswana managed to penetrate through the host nation’s defence to score the first goal of the match. The game progressed with each team matching each other goal-for-goal but it was Botswana who took advantage of the host nation’s unforced errors to widen the score line with their strong attacking plays. Determined, Singapore rallied back with quick passes which led to GA Charmaine Soh scoring 3 consecutive goals. However, Botswana’s midcourt fought back to interrupt Team Singapore’s attack, ending the quarter with a score of 13-9.

The second quarter saw both teams coming back with fierce intensity. The midcourt defence of both teams proved relentless as the ball flew back and forth before the first goal of the quarter was scored more than two minutes into the quarter. A steal by co-Vice Captain Baizura saw Singapore inch closer 2-3. With Singapore’s defence working hand-in-hand with their midcourt, the home team proceeded to score three consecutive goals to overtake Botswana the first time in the second quarter. The prowess of Singapore’s most capped player Premila Hirubalan and centurion Micky Lin was evident on court as the pair closed off their opponents’ options in the defensive circle. Quick cross court passes cutting through Botswana’s defence brought Singapore to the quarter score 8-11.

The third quarter kicked off to an exciting start with Pamela Liew coming on as GA and Botswana’s Beauty Letsholo as Centre. Unfortunately, Pamela’s shaky start caused Singapore to miss out on opportunities to level Singapore’s score. Meanwhile, Botswana maintains their steady momentum with a fluid attack downcourt and rapid passes in the circle. Botswana’s decision to bring on Beauty reaped dividends as their attack wove seamlessly through Singapore’s defence with clinical finish by shooters Hildah Binang and Tumisang Bagidi. The ‘slow and steady’ indeed wins the race as Botswana climbed back in the lead at 34-31.

The final and undoubtedly the best quarter of the match saw a completely different team from the host nation. With inspired cross court passes and tight defence, Team Singapore came alive to level the score at 36 all with a shot by GS Charmaine Soh. Shortly after, GA Yasmin Ho brought Singapore to their widest score difference of 5 points. Undeterred, Botswana maintained their cool throughout, focusing on finding space downcourt. Impressive circle defence by Botswana’s GD Ntebogang Motlakaloso and GK Francinah Eyman led to turnovers, providing Captain Tumisang Bagidi the opportunity to level the score 40 all.

This afternoon’s game ended with a nail-biting finish as both sides executed strong offensive tactics to match each other goal-for-goal. With the score tied at 43 and less than a minute to the end, a well-timed attack by the host nation led to their overall win of 44-43, made possible by GA Yasmin Ho, the game’s sharpest shooter.

Highlights
• Yasmin Ho was Singapore’s most proficient shooter for the fourth match in a row, scoring 87% of her attempts; she was also the game’s most accurate shooter
• Botswana averaged an 81% shot conversion rate, 2% higher than Singapore’s.

Score
Botswana vs Singapore
Q1: 13 – 9
Q2: 21 – 20 (8 – 11)
Q3: 34 – 31 (13 – 11)
Q4: 43 – 44 (9 – 13) 

Quote from Head Coaches

Ruth Aitken, Singapore Head Coach 
I’m exhausted, it was a fantastic game. Both Botswana and Singapore played with huge pride and neither was going to let it go. It was a real nail biter. I thought Shi Qi had a fantastic time, she’s a very experienced player, she’s got speed, she got out there and hunted ball. On attack she just really opened things up and it was really lovely to see. 
To lose Huifen with over 100 caps will take a bit of time. Both Yasmin and Charmaine prefer goal shooter, but they’ve adapted and they’ll do whatever is best for the team, and I think they did a great job out there today. 
I think the Singapore Invitational team have given me a lot to think about as national selector, it’s great for Netball Singapore. Our Under 21s are in Hong Kong and our opens are running the teams on the international stage.That’s just fantastic. 
The game changer was our full court pressure on defence, it was cumulative pressure. On attack we actually got our ball speed going, opened the court up and I think that’s when we’re at our best. Shi Qi’s experience showed through, Parveen’s played really well but she was a bit nervous today, and she didn’t challenge the way we wanted to. Shi Qi’s got great speed and on attack she was invaluable. 
It was really uplifting, there was great togetherness out there, they worked for each other, had some hard times this week, we don’t take disappointment easily, but they picked themselves up and finished with such style, that was great.

Neo Kebuang, Botswana Head Coach
It was a good game, and it was very tough. Both teams performed impressively well. It was a stiff competition but I think our team worked really, really well.

Quote from Players

Micky Lin, Singapore Captain 
For me, it’s a team effort. The pressure was really intense towards the end as you can tell, in fact we held onto the one-two points lead for the entire quarter. Playing goal keeper at the end and watching it was quite stressful but we’re glad we managed to hold on to it.

I think it’s in our brains, it’s a strategy that we used, we tried to keep possession so that we don’t give it away, We scored with a little time left so it gave them time to attack only once so that we can hold on to that lead. I’m really happy with the team performance today, it was really stressful out there but the team managed to hold on so I really applaud the effort from everyone.

Ang Shiqi, Singapore Player
As I stayed in the bench for the first quarter, I got to see how our opponents play and how to counter them. So I went into the second quarter, armed with that knowledge and performed my best. 
After the first loss with our game with Botswana previously, we went back to reflect and analyze the game as a team on what we should do and what we should not do. And today, we just stuck to our game plan and executed it on the court.