LAGUNA, Philippines: There was no masking the bitter disappointment etched across the faces of Singapore’s netballers after they lost to defending champions Malaysia 48-42 in the tournament final at the 30th SEA Games on Monday (Dec 2).
After a solid half where they led before going into the break on level terms, a wretched third quarter proved their undoing as Malaysia retained their 2017 gold.
“This one hurts more,” admitted experienced player Vanessa Lee.
“We came in more prepared and as you can see, the games were a lot closer. We had more structures done to our gameplay and things like that.”
At the last edition of the Games, Singapore missed out on gold after losing to Malaysia 65-41 in the finals.
But this game would prove much closer.
In a hard-fought game at the Santa Rosa multi-purpose sports complex in Laguna, it was the Singaporeans who started the game on top as they looked quickest and fastest to every loose ball. Despite being pegged back by a couple of individual errors, they finished the quarter ahead 13-12.
Malaysia had beaten Singapore 54-49 in the round-robin match last Friday and here they showed why, fighting their way back and leveling things up at 21-21 before the break.
They then found an extra gear in the third quarterand opened up a whopping 10-point lead over their rivals to make it 40-30 with 15 minutes left to play.
“We didn’t move into transition faster,” Lee told reporters. “Typically when we lose the ball, we just go into defence mode. But then, I guess we were a bit slow in that third quarter - so that’s a learning point.
“A lot of little things would have changed the outcome of this match, be it just a pass or just that transition. So I guess we have to go back and look at the footage again.”
While a spirited comeback by the Singapore side saw them cut the lead by as little as five points, the Malaysians would hold out for a well-deserved victory.
“I’m definitely disappointed but kudos to Malaysia they came out the better team today,” said Lee.
“In competition, one team will win and one will lose. So we have to take the humble pie and take the silver.”
Follow Mediacorp’s coverage of the 30th SEA Games and get the widest Team Singapore coverage with four LIVE channels on Toggle. Go to toggle.sg/seagames2019 for details.