SINGAPORE — Singapore's men's badminton team came within a point of finishing their Thomas Cup finals campaign with a series win, but succumbed 2-3 to hosts Thailand in their final group tie in Bangkok on Wednesday (11 May).
Third singles Joel Koh held four match points against Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul, but could not convert them as his Thai opponent came back to claim the third point for the hosts, winning the tie 14-21, 23-21, 21-11.
The result meant that Singapore ended their third Thomas Cup finals with three series defeats in a tough opening group that contained defending champions Indonesia as well as formidable Asian nations Thailand and South Korea.
Nonetheless, it was an encouraging outing, not just because it was the first time Singapore has qualified for the elite team competition since 2014.
The shuttlers took points against their rivals in every series - 1-4 against Indonesia and 2-3 against South Korea and Thailand - but could not match the squad depth of their opponents.
Reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew had a superb campaign, with three wins and no losses from his first singles spot.
The world No.10 defeated Indonesia's world No.5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (21-13, 21-14), South Korea's world No.31 Heo Kwang Hee (21-14, 21-12) and Thailand's world No.45 Khosit Phetpradab (21-15, 21-18) in straight sets to earn the points for Singapore in every series.
However, against the Indonesians and South Koreans, Singapore lost their next three ties - the second singles and both doubles matches - to be left with insurmountable 1-3 scorelines by the time Koh took to the court. His 21-15, 10-21, 21-11 win over South Korea's Lee Yun Gyu was in effect a dead rubber.
Against Thailand, however, Singapore's first doubles duo of Terry Hee and Loh Kean Hean gave Singapore a fighting chance when they defeated Tanadon Punpanich and Wachirawit Sothon 16-21, 21-18, 21-15 for a 2-0 series lead.
However, losses by second singles Jason Teh (21-23, 21-14, 17-21 to Adulrach Namkul) and second doubles Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Andy Kwek (14-21, 18-21 to Peeratchai Sukphun/Pakkapun Teeratsakul) set up Koh's unsuccessful bid to clinch the winning point.
The shuttlers now turn their attention to the SEA Games in Hanoi, with the badminton competition beginning next Monday.
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