Reality check: Hong Kong suffer defeat by Singapore at Asian Netball Championship, but are still in the hunt for the semi-finals
Robin Manihera’s side lost 32-18 to the two-time defending champions in Bangkok on Wednesday, but know victory over hosts Thailand on Thursday will secure a third consecutive semi-final appearance
Hong Kong’s title aspirations at the Asian Netball Championship suffered a setback on Wednesday as Robin Manihera’s side saw their perfect start ended with a 32-18 defeat by number one seeds and two-time defending champions Singapore.
Earlier convincing wins over Taiwan and the Maldives over the previous two days at the National Stadium in Bangkok had left the fourth seeds in an ideal position to take on the world number 17 as Hong Kong looked to improve on back-to-back semi-final appearances in the last two editions of the tournament in 2012 and 2014.
But world number 26 Hong Kong, who are the fourth seeds in the tournament, were outscored in the first three quarters and now must beat Thailand in their final group A outing on Thursday to make sure of a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“It took us a little while to settle into our game, and to Singapore’s credit, they came out firing,” said Hong Kong coach Manihera.
“However, we can take positives from this game as defensively we held our own. We now play Thailand, so we must mentally reset and focus on that game to finish in the top two of our pool to quality for the top four.”
Singapore, who had earlier beaten both Thailand and Taiwan, moved into an 8-4 lead after the first quarter before pulling clear with a 11-2 run in the second.
That lead was extended to 25-8 at the end of the third quarter, before a 10-7 final quarter in favour of Hong Kong saw the Manihera’s side claim the consolation of improving on the 63-28 defeat they suffered the last time the sides met.
“Today was a great test for us against the Asian champions,” said Hong Kong captain Jessica McCauley.
“We now know the areas we need to focus on before the game against Thailand. A win will put us through to the semi-finals and that is our focus.
“We have the confidence in each other that we can do the job and our possession and defensive stats from the game against Singapore show that we have enough ball to win these big games.”