National netball team eye podium finish at SEA Games

Yee Chun Leong

THE national netball team are eyeing another podium finish at the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The team made history at the last edition in Singapore two years ago with a joint-bronze medal. However, there has been plenty of changes to the squad since then with only six of those players retained.

This year Brunei will be competing against powerhouses Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines for top honours at the Aug 19-30 biennial event.

They received a confidence boost after returning from a five-game exposure series in Sri Lanka recently where they picked up wins against the Air Force and Army teams - the top and third best teams respectively in the country.

National netball coach Thilaka Jinadasa (pic) hopes that her charges will keep a strong mentality and be able to carry the momentum into the SEA Games.

“The Sri Lanka exposure series was really good for the girls as we played against the leading teams there,” said Jinadasa in an interview with BruSports News yesterday.

“We managed to beat the top team in the country, who have a few national players on the court, and Sri Lanka are always either Asian winners or runners-up.

“If we can beat that team and also beat the third best team as well as only lose by four goals to the second best team, the girls are really on the move now,” she added.

“If they can maintain that for the next 10-15 days up to the SEA Games, I’m sure we can really put up a strong challenge. I hope we can be on the podium again this time.

“If they can maintain the mentality… nothing physical or technical during the SEA Games, I believe that we will be able to finish on the podium,” continued the Sri Lankan when met at the Multipurpose Hall of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.

Jinadasa also applauded her charges for their hard work and hopes that it will pay off.

“The girls have committed themselves since last October and we have had around 80-100 attendance for all training sessions till now,” said the national netball coach.

“I really admire their commitment and I hope that it will pay off and that they can finish brightly at the SEA Games,” she added.

Jinadasa then went on to thank HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah for her continuous support as well as the Brunei Netball Association (BNA), Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the sponsors.

National netball team captain Siti Marhayati Ahmad in action during a training session yesterday. Picture: Yee Chun Leong

Meanwhile, team captain Siti Marhayati Ahmad also felt that the Sri Lanka trip was a good confidence booster ahead of the SEA Games.

“It was a good eye opener for us. For the first two games we were not that focused and confident until we fought against the Air Force,” said Marhayati.

“We had good communication and teamwork and we were eager to win that match.

“We knew it was going to be really tough but everyone had their mind on the goal and I’m proud that we won that game,” she added.

“We still had our rhythm against the Navy team but what we need to do is to fix our mentality.

“We have to stay focused for every quarter as we tend to lose a but of that in the third quarter,” concluded the goal attack.

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