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Singapore Will Face Samoa in Nations Cup Final

Samoa warm up for final with a crushing win over Ireland 

Botswana takes revenge on PNG

The final day of group action at the Nations Cup 2014 had plenty thrills and spills to set up a thrilling day of finals tomorrow.

Samoa continued their winning ways notching up the biggest score of the week so far (29-83) and Botswana put to rest their defeat here in 2008 with a win over the Pepes to book a rematch against Malaysia tomorrow. 

The final match had the crowds on the edge of their seats as Singapore got off to a shaky start against local rivals Malaysia but they came through strongly to book their place in the finals for the second year running. 


BOTSWANA VS PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The last time these teams met in the Nations Cup was back in 2008 where they played twice that week: once in the group stages (57-49 to PNG); and again in the grand final where PNG lifted the trophy with a close 55-53 result over Botswana.

Six years on and neither team will feature in the grand final this time, but the level of competition between to them remains as fierce as ever. Just one point separated them at the first break (13-14) and it was a repeat in the second quarter giving PNG and marginal two-point lead at halftime (26-28).

The tables turned in the second half though when Botswana made several tactical changes including moving Tumisang Bagidi from WA into GA. She scored ten goals with 100% accuracy. They stepped in front for a 43-37 advantage after the third quarter and kept the momentum going to the final whistle for a 59-46 victory and an important win to put them into the 3rd/4th play off tomorrow.

PNG meanwhile have to settle for just one victory in the group stages and will play off for 5th/6th position tomorrow, not what they’d hoped for coming in as third highest ranked side and finishing third last year.

Quotes:
BOTSWANA
Ntebo Maplanka (Coach): “I played in 2008 when we lost the final by two points and did not want the team to go through that again today. We came into the game knowing we’d lost to a lower ranked team already in Singapore and couldn’t let that happen again. World ranking points are very important to us and we also didn’t want to end up in the 5/6th play-off. Singapore and Botswana are worlds apart and we didn’t travel all that way for nothing! We let Papua New Guinea play their way in the first half and knew we would catch them with our speed and agility in the second half. I saved some key players for that stage and it worked.”

PNG
Unaisi Rokoura (Coach): “We started very strongly and executed the game plan well. After half time we gave away possession and we really need to look at that – again it’s about consistency. Not just for the first half, but for all four quarters. We gave that game away. Our lack of communication at the end was really our downfall. If we play Ireland tomorrow, its important for us to focus and stay in the zone. Forget today’s loss and that we have beaten Ireland before as that is not a guarantee for tomorrow.”


IRELAND VS SAMOA

It was a tough match for Ireland who are without a win this week as they ended the group stages against top-seeds and undefeated Samoa, going down 29-83 to the Pacific Islanders.

As they have done all week, Samoa played quick, powerful netball, working the ball round their opponents and limiting their errors and Ireland’s scoring opportunities in the process.

By halftime, Samoa had taken total complete control of the game with a 17-42 lead and the flow of the match continued in the second half with the world number 14 exerting their experience and skill over the Irish.

The girls in green kept fighting all the way but the winless streak continues and they now face PNG once more and are aiming for their first victory in Singapore this year.

Quotes:
IRELAND
Joan Young (Coach): “Samoa are not 14th in the world by mistake. They were excellent today. They played at their full capacity. Our girls are fatigued from a very physical week and we have a sever lack of regular quality competition so it starts to show. I am trying to take us over to the United Kingdom as often as possible to get them that exposure and experience but its not easy. From our own perspective, we had a good opening quarter and a good last quarter. Tomorrow we pick ourselves up and give it our best shot.”

SAMOA
Marcia Hardcastle (Coach): “Everyone gelled well on court today. Looking to tomorrow we need to be able to change our game to work well against whomever we come up against. My shooters were very impressive, I used five today, and one normally plays defence. We need to sort out our errors and limit turnover for tomorrow’s final and be able to change the timing of our passing as needed.”


MALAYSIA VS SINGAPORE 

Tonight’s final match between causeway rivals Malaysia and Singapore was crucial to determine who would take the finals spot alongside Samoa tomorrow.

Malaysia was the stronger side in the opening quarter taking a four-point lead (12-8), as Singapore took time to settle down and looked rattled by the Malaysians physical play. They had their chances but the final passes just weren’t connecting for them and vital scoring opportunities were going to waste.

Singapore started to find their rhythm, step-by-step and won the second quarter (8-10) to trail by just two goals at halftime (20-18).

The second half got underway and things started to click for the hosts. The passes connected better and the shots started to drop in the circle. It was still very tight though with Malaysia showing their strength in mid-court and their defenders made some key interceptions to keep them in the hunt (26-30). 

The sea of Singapore supporters in the OCBC Arena used their cheers to push their team along every minute of the final quarter and they were delighted by the response of the girls in red. They stretched their advantage and looked back to their best at times, focusing on getting their basics right and limiting mistakes to keep Malaysia in defensive mode.

The final whistle blew at 34-41 and it was smiles all round for the Singapore team and bench. Going into the competition ranked fourth, they have had an impressive week and now must raise their game and learn from Thursday’s group game against Samoa in an attempt to topple them at the second time of asking. 

Will the hosts go one better than their 2013 second placing? Or will the trophy go back to the Pacific Islands after a six-year hiatus?

Quotes:
MALAYSIA
Suo Kuen (Captain): “We are satisfied with our performance today against Singapore. We played well and it was a tough match. We had good teamwork today. We are not worried about tomorrow, we know that we can win against Botswana.”

SINGAPORE
Premila Hirubalan (GD): “We always had the belief we could beat Malaysia today but they always come back strongly so we knew it would be hard. Our matches are always tough against them. Now we focus on tomorrow. Ice bath and massage is important tonight as the legs are a bit heavy. We have never beaten Samoa but we have a lot of confidence from this week and our score line against them on Thursday.  We are up there with them and when we looked at the video we could see that it was a lot of our own mistakes that cost us so we need to focus on our game plan and get the simple things right.”


RESULTS FOR DAY 5:
Botswana 59-46 Papua New Guinea (HT 26-28)
Ireland 29-84 Samoa (HT 17-42)
Malaysia 34-41 Singapore (HT 20-18)