28th SEA Games Singapore 2015 - OCBC Arena Hall 1, Singapore - 31/5/15 Netball - Singapore v Brunei - Preliminary Round - Netball - Singapore's Shina Teo (C) in action TEAMSINGAPORE Mandatory Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters
The Singapore netball team kicked off the SEA Games with an emphatic 72-21 win over Brunei Darussalam in front of a roaring home crowd at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.
Reigning Asian champions Singapore started off the match strong and were leading 19-6 by the end of the first quarter.
The hosts then continued to dominate the rest of the game, eventually winning by 51 goals.
Coach Ruth Aitken, who took charge of the Singapore netball team in 2013, said it was a great start for the home team.
"It was a great team effort. To get all 12 players out there on court and to keep the score line ticking over was really good. There were some wonderful passages of play, some great defence."
Although the shooters enjoyed most of the limelight, Aitken was impressed by the team’s defense, especially from Premila Hirubalan.
Hirubalan, who at 32 years old was the oldest player on court, showed great speed and reflexes in intercepting numerous balls and breaking up opposition play.
"I think each of them did very well. But I think defensively Hirubalan takes some pretty outstanding ball," Aitken told reporters after the match.
"I thought Ang Shiqi did some great stuff too. But it's a team game. We need seven attackers and seven defenders."
28th SEA Games Singapore 2015 - OCBC Arena Hall 1, Singapore - 31/5/15 Netball - Singapore v Brunei - Preliminary Round - Singapore’s Shelby Koh Lian (R) in action SEAGAMES28 TEAMSINGAPORE Mandatory Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters
While Singapore plays Thailand on Monday, Singapore captain Lin Qingyi has already set her sights on Tuesday’s match against Malaysia, "The past few times we met them, there was only a seven point difference and in netball you realise you can turnover that in a matter of minutes, so I would say [they] are a very close contender."
The Malaysian netball team, which is ranked second in Asia after Singapore, is viewed as Singapore's biggest competitor for the gold medal.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, was at the match and called on the home crowd to continue their raucous support for all Team Singapore athletes.
“I think this is a very good start for our SEA games campaign. Netball has given us a strong start so we look forward to the other matches coming up.
Mr Wong adds, “The home crowd is tremendous. You see so many fans coming to support and I think that gives our Team Singapore athletes a much added boost. I hope that all our Singapore fans will continue to support our athletes in the coming days for the rest of the tournament."