The Botswana national netball team made a dream start in the World Netball championships on Sunday, beating the hosts Singapore 43 ÔÇô 36 in a very closely fought opening game.
The local girls, who had just rendered a resonant performance of the national anthem, had to fight off a spirited display from the Singaporean netballers to register their first points of the 2011 Championships and make their top eight finish ambition a step closer.
After seeing the hosts score two quick points on the trot at the start of the first quarter, the local ladies stepped up to the challenge and quickly established their dominance over the hosts.
Team captain, Portia Rasekhumba and goal shooter, Tebogo Radipotsane, proved too difficult for the Singaporean defence as they netted at will. The hosts were, however, not far behind as they managed to fight on to keep the score at a respectable 12 ÔÇô 10 by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was, however, a different ball game as the Botswana ladies were quick to exert their dominance over their opponents with the duo of Rasekhumba and Radipotsane making their presence felt by the Singaporean defence.
Radipotsane was at her best in the quarter as she scored most of the team’s points while Rasekhumba’s overall display was a marvel.
The diminutive captain’s movement across the court, coupled with her quickness and an eye for goal, was delightful to the eye and underlined why she is regarded as one of the world’s top scorers.
Botswana won the second quarter 11 ÔÇô 6 to go to recess leading 23 ÔÇô 16 overall.
The third quarter was a closely fought encounter as the Singaporeans sought to make a comeback and launched a relentless battle against their highly ranked opponents.
Despite their spirited performance, Singapore could do nothing as Botswana held on to win the third quarter by a slender 10 ÔÇô 9 margin. Coming into the last quarter, Coach Seipei Gaelesiwe brought in the towering Violet Moabi for the tiring Radipotsane.
The lanky goal shooter got off to a good start scoring quick points for Botswana as well as using her physical presence to dominate in the circle. Botswana, however, took their feet off the pedal towards the end of the quarter and allowed the Singaporeans to fight back and reduce the deficit when it seemed like the local girls were going to win by a double digit margin. The local ladies then resorted to keeping possession of the ball as they tried to run down the clock.
Despite an assured display from Botswana, coach Seipei will have to work hard on the team’s discipline as they gave away too many penalties, something which gave their opponents time to attack them and score some very vital points.
Botswana is expected to wrap up their last group fixture today (Wednesday) against perennial rivals, the Spar Proteas of South Africa, having played Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls yesterday (Tuesday).