Official Website of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council
Brunei put brave fight in Malaysia defeat
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda ‘Abdul ‘Aleem and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Faiq in a group picture with the national netball team. – SEA GAMES SECRETARIAT

BRUNEI Darussalam national netball team put up a spirited fight in the 64-27 loss to gold medal favourites Malaysia in the preliminary round of the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at Juara Stadium Bukit Kiara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The national team fell short of the 30-point mark that they established against Singapore but this was a steady improvement from their 82-24 defeat to the same team in the previous edition two years ago.

It is also the second consecutive match that Brunei have narrowed the gap with supposedly two of the region’s giants feeling the effect of their competitiveness in one of the four contested quarters.

Brunei closed the gap with the reigning Asian Netball Championships holders in the second quarter almost reminiscent of their display in the third quarter against Singapore but Malaysia stepped up a gear from the third quarter.

Malaysia head coach Tracey Robinson devised her own strategy and rested an automatic starter in An Najwa Azizan in the bench with team captain Nur Syazaliyana Mohd Ali who boasts an expertise in long throws joining her in the reserves.

However, they still have Norashikin Kamalzaman who terrorised the Bruneian defence two years ago in Singapore as their focal point of attack in the starting line-up.

Brunei’s Siti Marhayati binti Ahmad squandered her side’s first attempt after her shot hit the rim enabling Malaysia to take control of play inspired by the commanding presence of Norashikin.

The Malaysian goal shooter was in devastating form converting 15 of her side’s 18 goals in the first quarter though Brunei had a respectable nine points in the intermediate result.

The Royal Bees started adventurously at the start of the second quarter with Nor Hafizah bte Haji Abdul Sidek in clinical mode scoring four baskets in quick succession as she increased her scoring accuracy.

The Bruneian top goal shooter missed her initial shot but showed determination to win the rebound and sunk a well-deserved point to help her side rake in more points.

National netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa valued highly the importance of Nor Hafizah in the squad though there is still room for improvement.

“She made good moves to overcome strong defenders and it helped to improve our momentum throughout the game. But still, she can do much better if she can be patient with shots,” said Jinadasa of her goal shooter.

Although Brunei looked confident in passing the ball well, their good work at times were cut short as the Malaysian defence were alert to thwart any Brunei attack exemplified by the defensive prowess of Yap Suo Kuen.

The wing defence utilised her height advantage to retrieve the ball at arm length before making the transition from defence to attack.

Malaysia hit another gear in the third quarter after expanding their lead to 26 points thanks to a haul of 18 points compared to Brunei’s five.

Brunei produced their best display in the third quarter against Singapore after matching them with 12 points but this was arguably their worst with their lowest point tally.

Malaysia brought on Izyan Syazana Mohd Wazir to the fold as she partnered up with the impressive Norashikin and contributed to Malaysia widening their lead.

Jinadasa gave a runout to one of their substitutes possibly to help the in-form Nur Hafizah save energy ahead of their remaining group fixtures against Philippines and Thailand.

Malaysia’s goal-shooter Norashikin said that they have done their homework on Brunei’s patterns of play and stuck to their strategies to overcome their opponents.

Meanwhile in the other match, Thailand hammered Philippines 86-16 as the former notched their first win of the tournament.

Brunei will play Philippines next in the preliminary round in a must-win encounter which is almost an identical situation that they faced during the previous edition in Singapore.

Courtesy from Borneo Bulletin