Brunei Darussalam national netball team registered their first victory in the preliminary round of the 2022 Asian Netball Championships after defeating Chinese Taipei 38-34 at the OCBC Arena of the Singapore Sports Hub in Singapore on Sunday.
Brunei, also known as the Royal Bees, moved to second place in the three-member Group ‘C’ table which also includes Malaysia.
The national team took a 11-6 lead in the first quarter before pulling ahead by eight points with a 21-13 lead in the second quarter.
The Bruneians held on to a slender lead as Chinese Taipei clawed their way back into contention with the scoreboard reading 29-28 in the third quarter, before the former closed the game with the victory.
Brunei team captain Siti Marhayati binti Ahmad said, “There are a lot of learning points from the match. We did lose a bit of focus and Chinese Taipei read our game well.”
She added, “It was a great game, and I’m glad the team didn’t give up. Their fight back and the eagerness, especially in connections among the team, really helped and I’m so proud of them.”
With their opponents hot on their trail, she said, “Our coach told us to stay calm (after the third quarter) because we were still in the lead, so we told one another to relax and stay composed.”
It marked newly-appointed coach Nur Hafizah binti Haji Abdul Sidek’s first official victory since taking charge of the team and succeeding predecessor Jane Searle.
The former national player has assembled a new-look Royal Bees with Siti Marhayati and vice-captain Zuraidah binti Haji Amit among the survivors from the 2019 team.
Meanwhile, Brunei’s certified match umpire Asmawi Sulaiman was assigned as a reserve during the match between hosts Singapore and Maldives.
Brunei’s best finish in the competition is sixth, which they achieved on three occasions in 2012, 2016 and 2018.
Three-times winners Singapore and Hong Kong are guaranteed a place in the semi-finals after being drawn in Group ‘E’ in the second round.
Singapore won their second successive Group ‘B’ match this campaign after defeating Maldives 96-10, while Hong Kong beat Thailand 56-29 in Group ‘D.
The continental meet serves as an Asian qualifier for the Netball World Cup 2023, with teams contesting the final on September 11 confirmed a spot in Cape Town, South Africa.