The National, Monday 12th December 2011
THE Papua New Guinea Pepes beat Sri Lanka with a morale-boosting 80-70 win ahead of their fifth place playoff yesterday on the final day (Saturday) of round-robin matches in the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup.
PNG’s confidence has taken a real-knock this week with three key players going out injured and some close matches going against them, but they picked themselves up playing hard and with flair.
Sri Lanka on the other hand has always viewed this as a training tour and despite failing to win a match, they’ve been happy with the performances of a young team and the experience they’re gaining.
The feeding of balls into goal 209cm shooter Tharjini Sivalignam was more effective today keeping them in the game throughout.
PNG coach Pole Kassman was pleased the girls were back to winning ways.
“The girls played very well, they implemented what we trained for this morning so I am happy with that.
“We had to stop the ball in the middle of court because when it gets beyond there, there’s not much you can do.”
Focusing on their own shooting circle and the loss of their first choice shooter.
“Marie (Ottio) has really improved and re-gathered her confidence and I am really glad for her.
“We will go out fighting again tomorrow and we know we can beat them.
“The girls are playing with more confidence now.”
Vice-captain Maleta Roberts gave her thoughts on the week.
“It’s been extremely tough, you don’t take any team lightly and it’s been hard adjusting with the injuries we have had. I did feel tired in the last part of the game but we took our time and got the win. We needed that: for the team, for our country.
“We’re all in the team for a reason; we’re all as talented as each other to be here so if someone gets injured there is someone to step up to the plate. So if we stick to our role we are going to get somewhere. We trust each other and that’s how you get through it.
“This week hasn’t gone as well as we planned. We definitely thought we’d beat Singapore and Malaysia.
“We didn’t expect to lose any match but those two in particular. We were fit and ready for the tournament and had worked really hard but just little things put us down and we didn’t keep that consistency.”
Meanwhile in the earlier match, Singapore ground down local rivals Malaysia 42-35 win to book a place in yesterday’s final against Fiji.
After an unsettled start, Singapore settled a little and finished the first quarter a whisker in front (10-11).
Malaysia played Namibia yesterday in a fight for third place.
In the other Saturday match, Fiji stayed on top this evening with a 60-37 over Namibia but they didn’t have it all their own way.
With 17 places separating them in the world rankings (7 and 24 respectively), the performance of the African nation was very impressive – attacking and defending with grit and determination and winning the final quarter 13 goals to 10.
The finals saw Sri Lanka play PNG followed by Malaysia versus Namibia.
The playoff (last night) for the top spot was between Singapore bidding for their third Nations Cup title (2006 and 2007) against the undefeated Fijians.