08 June 17 The Straits Times by IAN KIEW
Expectations of a gold medal clean sweep were high for Singapore's female bowlers prior to the 2015 SEA Games on home soil.
But Malaysia tore up the homecoming script and bagged two of the five golds on offer.
The pressure then was immense and played a part as the Republic fell short of their targets, admitted national bowler Jazreel Tan, who won the women's masters but finished second in three other events.
Malaysia finished top with five golds in the overall standings, one clear of second-placed Singapore.
With Kuala Lumpur hosting the Games in August, it represented the perfect chance to turn the tables on their fierce rivals.
The 27-year-old Tan said: "We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose right now.
"I think home ground can do two different things - they could spur somebody on but it could also break somebody in terms of having too much pressure."
"They (the Malaysian team) are all very experienced bowlers and I think the crowd is going to spur them and us on. We know they will be trash talking us from behind, but we'll think about it in a positive way and use it to our advantage."
There will be 11 golds (five men's and women's events plus one mixed) on offer during the Aug 20-25 competition at the Sunway Mega Lanes in Petaling Jaya.
Singapore coach Jason Yeong-Nathan said: "Our main focus is to be very prepared. We've been working on our game and learnt from what happened. It's been two years and I believe that this team is a stronger team."
His players will have an opportunity to lay down a marker at the ongoing $170,000 Singapore Open, with Malaysia's national team competing alongside keglers from Japan and South Korea.
A record 682 bowlers are taking part in this year's edition, which concludes on Sunday.
Malaysian Adrian Ang, who won the team gold at the 2015 Games, said: "Pressure will definitely be there, especially with it held in Malaysia. Still, we'll do our best for sure , it's a do or die attitude for us."
"We're prepared for the Games, our confidence has always been there."