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Three-point shot the key for Fast5 Ferns

NICOLA ABERCROMBIE
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012
Silver Ferns
MICHAEL BRADLEY/ Fairfax NZ

SPEEDSTERS: Anna Harrison, Kayla Cullen, Bailey Mes and Maria Tutaia are all dressed up and ready to fire for the Silver Ferns in the Fast5 World Series starting in Auckland today.

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For more than 10 years Irene van Dyk has been the Silver Ferns go-to shooter but she concedes that this weekend she won't be top dog.

The Fast5 game has different shooting rules, with shots from the back of the circle worth two points and shots from outside the circle worth three.

Van Dyk is a renowned rock under the hoop but with the added impact of the powerplay quarter, where shots earn double points, long-range bombs will be crucial.

The Ferns veteran admits the long shot is not her strength and fans shouldn't expect too many three-pointers from her.

"I've been practising but I'm not very successful at it.

"I think you'll only see it if I'm feeling lucky on the day."

Initial plans for the new Fast5 rules included the option of midcourters being able to shoot, an idea that coach Wai Taumaunu said shaped the makeup of her squad.

"Initially we thought the midcourters were going to be able to shoot, so to be fair Kayla [Cullen] and Bailey [Mes] are midcourters who can shoot, so there was an element of picking them for that reason, that they could perhaps throw the three-pointers up from a midcourt position.

"That hasn't transpired, so we've picked what is largely a bunch of shooters."

It leaves Laura Langman as the only specialist midcourter but it's a conundrum that should work in the Ferns' favour.

Van Dyk said the benefit of rolling subs meant the more accurate long-range shooters, such as Cullen or Anna Thompson, could be brought on to complement Maria Tutaia in the powerplay.

"[The powerplay is] going to be absolutely huge and in those times you would obviously want your shooter who is on form and putting away the longer shots."

With Cullen, Mes and Thompson all capable of moving between the shooting circle and midcourt, Taumaunu has plenty of options for the crucial double points quarter.

"We're certainly playing to make the most of it. It could be huge, two or three of those [three-pointers] in the powerplay quarter is 18 goals and that would be quite hard to make up."

FAST5: HOW IT WORKS

The game: As the name suggests, Fast5 is five-a-side netball rather than the conventional seven. The wing attack and defence are yanked but the positional restrictions in traditional netball remain the same for the shooters, defenders and centre. The game is broken into four six-minute quarters, with teams changing ends at the end of each quarter. Teams can use rolling subs and there is no limit to the number of substitutions they can make.

Scoring: There are three ways to score in Fast5. The goal circle itself is split into an inner and outer circle. A shot from within the inner circle is worth one point and a shot from within the outer circle is worth two. The shooters are able to shoot from outside the goal circle and these goals are worth three points.

Powerplay: Each team can nominate one quarter as their powerplay quarter. In the quarter, every goal scored is worth double points. As Fast5 Fern Anna Thompson said: "If a team gets a couple of three-pointers in their powerplay, it can change the game dramatically."

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Ferns in action (all games live on Sky Sport 1):

Friday: v Jamaica, 6.30pm; v Australia, 9.30pm

Saturday: v Malawi, 5pm; v South Africa, 7.15pm; v England, 9.30pm

Sunday: Semifinal 1 (1st v 4th), 3.15pm; semifinal 2 (2nd v 3rd), 4pm; final, 7.45pm.

- Stuff

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