Story by Koh Yizhe/Red Sports. Photos by Les Tan/Red Sports
Tok Huimin (Singapore #7) drives to the basket for two. Huimin finished with 8 points on 3 of 8 shooting. (Photo 1 © Les Tan/Red Sports)
*scape Youth Park, Sunday, August 22, 2010 – The Singapore basketball girls’ suffered a heartbreak, losing 29-28 to Thailand in Group E as their hopes of finishing 17th were dashed.
Both teams were trading the lead throughout the match and it seemed to be down to the wire for the victory. They were level with less than four seconds remaining at 28-28 when Thidaporn Maihom was fouled. With all eyes on her, she made one of two free throws and sealed the victory 29-28.
After suffering four defeats in the group stages, Singapore were playing for 17th spot in Group E against Thailand, Vanuatu and Chile. In the previous match against Vanuatu, Singapore girls pulled off a victory, beating the Pacific country 26-10.
Zoe Eng was out of action in that match after suffering an ankle injury against Angola in the group stages, but was available to play against Thailand. Although she started on the bench, her height definitely helped Singapore in the eight and a half minutes she played. Zoe finished with a game-high seven rebounds and four steals. She also added six points and two assists.
Thailand took the lead first through Punnida Arjsri’s layup, but Singapore were right back in it when Hannah Ng scored six straight points, claiming a 6-2 lead for Singapore.
Soon, Singapore established a 15-10 lead with contributions from Tok Hui Min and Hannah with 1.36 minutes on the clock. Thailand came right back, however, going on an 8-1 run to end the half to lead 18-16.
Zoe’s ankle was clearly bothering her and without her presence on court, Singapore struggled to contest rebounds against Thailand’s Punnida Arjsri.
But it was still anybody’s game after the interval as Zoe gamely played on despite her injury. She finished with a game-high seven rebounds and managed to give Singapore the lead in the second half at 22-21 with a jumper. Not only that, Zoe made four steals, which allowed Singapore to maintain their lead at 26-25.
Zoe then made it 28-26 when she was fouled in with a little over 30 seconds left to play. Aungkana Buapa (#6) tied the game at 28-28 with time winding down, before Thidaporn Maihom’s heroics sealed the game for Thailand with a free throw.
“I think I played quite badly,” said Zoe after the match. “I had a few open shots, but I couldn’t put the ball into the back of the net. It still hurts, my ankle. The doctor didn’t allow me to train at all since I injured it. It affects my jumping as it hurts when I hand.”
“However, I’m very touched that my parents and my friends came down today. My parents came down at 6.30am to queue up for the tickets! I’d really like to thank my parents for giving me their full support throughout the entire tournament,” added Zoe.
Coach Chang Chih Ning said, “We played not bad, I think we lost the game when Hannah fouled out. The players played very well, especially Zoe though she’s injured.”
“I feel very happy because my teammates came down to support me and I see my familiar faces in the crowd,” said Hannah. “Unfortunately I fouled out and very sadly we lost by one point. I think the last one foul was a clean block! They (the referees) were not very generous on giving fouls, only generous to me. We wanted to win, and we were unlucky.”
“Zoe really tried her best today,” the Raffles Institution student continued. “Although she is still hurting and it is still sore, she really wanted to play put on her show for her friends and family! I am really proud of her.”
Thidaporn Maihom (Thailand #5) drives between Hannah Ng (right) and Zoe Eng of Singapore. Thidaporn sank 11 points for her team. (Photo 2 © Les Tan/Red Sports)
Zoe Eng (Singapore #9) finds the going tough against the tall and lanky Punnida Arjsri (Thailand #7). Zoe finished with 6 points on 3 of 9 shooting. (Photo 3 © Les Tan/Red Sports)
Alanna Lim (Singapore #11) shoots over Punnida. Alanna had 4 points on 2 of 6 shooting. (Photo 4 © Les Tan/Red Sports)
Aungkana Buapa (Thailand #6) finds herself in a sandwich between Zoe (left) and Hannah. The Thai girl scored a game-high 14 points. She was 4 of 12 from the field, which included one 3-pointer. (Photo 5 © Les Tan/Red Sports)
Zoe goes up for another 2 points as Punnida tries to block. (Photo 6 © Les Tan/Red Sports)