In her address to the 1,300-strong crowd, Jessica shared some of the year’s top netballing highlights, such as being awarded the Best Local Sports Event of the Year at the Singapore Sports Award and praised the team for their SEA Games win.She also paid special tribute to Mrs. Tan Yoon Yin, the first President of Netball Singapore for her contributions and efforts in building and growing the local netball community.Following the opening ceremony, fans were treated to a heart-thumping curtain raiser as Singapore took on rivals Papua New Guinea in what was an enthralling and close encounter as the visitors edged the match 44-43.In a repeat of the 2014 opening match, the teams went head to head right from the tip-off with Papua New Guinea’s quick and crisp passing game evident as they scored the first points of the match through GS Tiata Baldwin racing to a 5-1 lead before Singapore called a timeout. Singapore looked an inspired team after the timeout, with centre Nurul Baizura connecting a string of passes, and GS Charmaine Soh, and GA Pamela Liew, who scored 5 and 4 points respectively. The quarter ended with Papua New Guinea leading 11-9.The second quarter started with Singapore on the comeback as they rallied to take the lead 12-11 and then 14-12, as the teams went neck and neck throughout. Papua New Guinea then went on to score 9 in the second quarter to reclaim the lead from Singapore, ending the half with a 20-18 lead. Notable performances in the quarter came from Charmaine Soh (Singapore) with 5 points, and Lua Rikis (Papua New Guinea) with 6 points.At the mid-way point, Team Singapore made several changes as they brought on Ang Shi Qi as WD, and Yasmin Ho as GS, moving Charmaine Soh to GA, Micky to GK, and repositioning Premila to GD. Kimberly and Baizura retained their roles as WA and C respectively.Despite Singapore’s good start to the third quarter, the host found themselves down 31-33, as the Papua New Guinea defence proved tough to break down, with GD Susan Wellington, and GK Kilala Owen putting on impressive defensive displays to keep the opposition at bay. Midway through the quarter, Singapore regained their momentum to eventually tie the quarter at 13 all.The fourth quarter began with Papua New Guinea’s two-point lead from the first quarter intact. Mid-way through the quarter, Singapore tied the score at 40-all as a steal from Shi Qi was well finished by Yasmin Ho, who ended the match with 17 points. However an opening victory for the host was not to be as Papua New Guinea closed out the nail-biting match with a 44-43 win.When asked about the performance Team Singapore head coach Ruth Atiken said “ A one point loss is always hugely disappointing, but in terms of the fire of the team finishing strongly I was really pleased. It was a great game over 60 minutes and is a reflection of what this tournament is going to be about, we knew that they are a every strong team, they’ve been very close to us, so it’s all on.”When asked about the newer players in the team she added “I think Yasmin played really well as a goal shooter, she scored five or six in a row and her availability was excellent.”Micky Lin, Team Singapore captain said “I think we were a bit too careful to start, we played really short stuff and slowed the game down quite a fair bit. We usually play a much faster game, and took awhile to settle in, but we definitely got better over the last few quarters, and I think if we had a better start it would have been different for us, definitely something we need to bring back and work on.”Photo: Team Singapore’s Charmaine Soh takes a shot to bring the host nation a point closer to equalizing with Papua New Guinea at the 10th Mission Foods Cup. Photo courtesy Straits Times.
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