The Botswana national netball team beat Singapore in their final of three match friendly games to make it a treble of victories. In a game played at the Botswana Agricultural College (BCA) indoor facility this past Sunday, Coach Neo Kebuwang’s charges were relentless as they won all four quarters in a high tempo game. The defeat means Singapore has only won one game in their five day visit to Botswana, having registered their only win against Botswana’s youth team on Friday.
Buoyed by a mix of youthful exuberance and experience, the Botswana ladies were a marvel to watch as they were able to switch the tempo of the game at will to kill off the game. Against Singapore on the final game on Sunday, coach Kebuwang started with a very youthful team, which included among others teenagers Letang Mogotlhwane (goal defence) and Sarona Hans (Centre) as well as twenty year old Oarabile Thapo making the starting lineup, while Gagotheko Tshelametsi was the only senior player in the team. Despite a tightly fought first quarter, the youthful team slightly shaded the game 9 ÔÇô 7 to set the stage. The first quarter was a test of character for the local girls, more especially goal attacker Tumisang Bagidi and goal scorer Hildah Binang, who found it hard to deal with the towering figure of Goal Keeper Li Li Chen and her Goal Defence.
The local girls were however a much improved side in the second quarter, using speed and guile to outfox the Singaporeans. With Beauty Letsholo replacing Hans in midcourt, Botswana, who resorted to playing low balls at high tempo, were able to open up their opponents and the results were obvious as they won the second quarter 13 ÔÇô 6 to lead the game 22 ÔÇô 13 at half time. From recess, coach Kebuwang made a raft of changes, bringing in among others, the experienced Ntebogang Motlakaleso and Portia Rasekhumba. The substitutions proved a well thought move, more especially as Singapore, led by Goal scorer Charmaine Soh and Goal Attacker Jocelyn Ng, started piling pressure on Botswana. Combining experience in attack and steel in defence, the local girls were able to weather the storm to take the third quarter by a 9 ÔÇô 8 margin.
The fourth and final quarter was a totally different animal as both teams played to a 10 all draw. It was however an exercise in futility for the Singapore girls as they were trailing 31 ÔÇô 41 to Botswana at the end of the last quarter. Speaking in an interview after the game, Singapore Coach Ruth Aitken expressed happiness at the competitiveness of the Botswana team. She said with the six nations’ cup coming up, their trip to Botswana was ‘a great way for Singapore to prepare for it.’ She said despite losing, her team’s battles with Botswana had given her a chance to experiment with putting players in ‘different positions and environments’ and she was happy. She said as part of the Netball Singapore technical team, the tour to Botswana also ‘gave them a feel of the country’ ahead of the Botswana 2017 Netball World Youth Championships, which they hope to qualify for. For her part, Kebuwang expressed happiness at how her charges played during their encounter with Singapore.
The Botswana Senior Netball team coach said she was also happy with her team’s attack and movement in midcourt, saying these were the two areas where Botswana excelled against Singapore. The two teams are now likely to meet again when the six nations’ cup kicks off in Singapore later this year.