Unfortunately, not making the semi-finals also meant that after playing all late games, the Korus had an abrupt switch to the first game and consequently also the first training of the day at 8am!
Overnight we had some good news on the injury front with Nev's knee settling down enough for him to return to the fray while the others are continuing to manage their aches and pains in what has been a challenging, long and fun week of korfball thus far.
Looking a little lethargic and red-eyed, we arrived at training to find the team from Macau already out on court. Keeping with tradition, Koru was handed on from Kelsey to our team baby Alice who, after coming off the bench yesterday, acquitted herself very well against the Chinese team. A quick aside, Alice has also become quite famous for her 'flappy bird' run and has really grown into a hugely valued part of our team.
Tight and sore bodies from the previous days match laboured through training where our focus had to be putting the ball in the hoop, as this had been an area we have not performed well in all week.
Following training it was back to the hotel to once against devour the breakfast buffet and refuel our bodies. Spencer ran a stretching session and soon it was time to prepare for our game at 1.20pm.
With pride, respect and a chance to put ourselves into the playoff for fifth tomorrow, there was no lack of motivation in the Korus and certainly no sadness hangover from missing out on our shot at world champs the previous day. It has been great to see the way the team has maintained a positive outlook throughout a very tough and challenging week. While it's probable that some greater developments in our mental game are required to compete with the top sides, having a positive team environment has certainly been a good step towards improved performances.
Starting today's match was Bevan (c), Carl, Loralee and Alice in attack; Simon, Mikey, Rosa and Rachel in defense.
It was a very slow start to the game as despite being completely dominant on court and generating a number of easy scoring chances, our attacking division just couldn't finish the job. Finally after eight minutes Bevan managed to break the drought with a running in shot which Macau quickly replied to. With the change of ends, our starting defence showed good control on attack, Simon scoring twice including a penalty. Bevan then returned the favour scoring a further two times and Rosa repeated the double dose giving the New Zealanders a 7-1 lead. Two further goals, one each to Loralee and Mikey ensured a 9-2 half time lead.
Rosa scored early in the second half, converting a well worked goal with great support play from the males at her end. After the change of ends our starting attack became really bogged down, struggling to create good scoring chances through lack of movement and players not taking on their designated roles. It was a full 11 minutes before the next goal, through which Simon, Mikey, Rosa and Rach toiled on defence. Bevan finally converting a free pass while Macau did the same at the other end of the court. Rosa again proved her attacking prowess, scoring another running in shot after some effective post work from Mikey. Macau scored the next two goals before rhythm finally returned to the Korus attacking end, finishing the game out with five further goals shared between Spencer, Mikey, Rosa, Alice and Nev. Final score, a comfortable but frustrating 17-5 win.
Needless to say there were rather mixed emotions in the kiwi camp after the game. Certainly there was satisfaction in finally scoring some more goals and also scoring the win that puts us into the playoff for fifth tomorrow. There was also a huge amount of frustration in the missed chances, and the lack of smart control on court.
Tomorrow a playoff awaits against Malaysia, a team who have shown some good scoring and rebounding ability against the lower ranked teams in the tournament. We will have to raise our game one last time if we are to overcome our opponents, finish a respectable fifth place and also be the first reserves Asia-Oceania team for the world champs.
Till next time, keep smiling :-)