New Era (Windhoek)

11 December 2012

Namibia: Desert Jewels Claim Bronze At Nations Cup

A week after the Nations Cup 2012 opened at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall in Singapore, the final matches determined the champion of the 7th edition of the annual spectacle.

Namibia found themselves pitted against Sri Lanka for the 3rf place play-off in a reversal of fortunes after the Sri Lankans came out on top, beating the Namibians 69-65. However, Toetsie Kambatuku's inspirational team was in an uncompromising mood and secured their highest finish at the Nations Cup after a hard fought 76-70 triumph.

Sri Lanka took the first quarter by two goals (19-17) as they played their usual attacking style, picking out Tharjini Sivalingam in the circle each time. It was 17 goals each in the second period to give the Asian side a 36-34 lead at the half, but there was a marked shift in control after the break.

Namibia came out fighting and the crowd went crazy in support of the Africans as they played with confidence and drive to take the third quarter 15-23 and sneak into the overall lead 51-57.

With their heads up and momentum on their side they still had to fight hard in the final 15 minutes as Sri Lanka also dug deep and won the quarter 20-19, but the advantage had already gone to Namibia and they were delighted to take third place.

Namibian coach Marcha Myburgh was oozing with delight. "It's beyond sweet, it's way, way up there. For me, this is a high. I am taking a leave of absence from the team for a while after a back operation, but it's lovely to finish this spell on a high. In 2010 we were fifth, last year we were fourth and we were aiming this year for the top three."

Ahead of the final showdown between Tanzania and Malaysia, very few would have given the Asian side a chance of overcoming the unbeaten African Queens to take the Nations Cup title, but they had been defying the odds all week and were going for another upset.

The 2 000-strong crowd enjoyed the aggression and determination of both sides and gave shouts of support throughout. Malaysia gave them lots of reasons to get excited as they picked themselves up again in the third half to win by two goals (9-11), going into the final quarter with a 10-goal deficit to make up (36-26).

The fourth quarter was an end-to-end contest (9-12) but sadly for Malaysia, and like so many matches this week, 45 minutes of play between the sides was evenly matched, but one quarter in the game was the decisive game-changer. The advantage gained by Tanzania in the second quarter was enough to keep them ahead and the match finished 45-38 to crown them the Nations Cup Champions for 2012.

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