THE lack of quality long-range shooting was Jamaica's demise at the Fast5 World Netball Championship, it was revealed as the team landed at the Norman Manley International Airport from New Zealand yesterday.
The Sunshine Girls finished fourth after losing the third-placed playoff, 38-34, to South Africa. Hosts New Zealand won the inaugural tournament by beating England, 23-21, in the final.
Jamaica's captain Nadine Bryan said the team learnt a lot in this form of the game, but were let down by their inability to take three-point shots.
Said Bryan: "I guess the shooters really learnt a lesson and we have to have long-range shooters for this competition. It's not like the teams outplayed us. It's just... they had long-ranged shooters shooting from outside and in their power play they get like 18 points for just three shots. That was our downfall and that's what we will have to improve on."
Jamaica opened the six-team tournament last Friday with three games, losing the first, 25-34 to South Africa, then drawing 38-38 with eventual champions New Zealand before edging Malawi, 32-31.
On Saturday, the Sunshine Girls lost to England Fives, 39-28, clipped Australia, 34-33, and advanced to the semi-final where they were blown away by New Zealand, 52-18.
Like cricket, netball has evolved from the traditional format to the more exciting FastNet version and now the more action-packed Fast5 version.
The Fast5 game has different shooting rules, with shots from the back of the circle worth two points and those from outside the circle worth three and doubled to six during the power play.
Among the rules changes is reducing the number of players on court to five per team from the traditional seven players.
"The tournament was good. It was a different version of what we were used to, so we have learnt quite a few things and things that we have improved on in order to compete in this competition," said Bryan, the veteran of this team.
"Our shooters are not long-ranged shooters; they are post-in shooters who stand up in the circle and get the ball under the post and shoot. We have to shift our training accordingly if we're going to compete at that level in the Fast5 competition.
"It's all about the shooters and we have to improve in that area," Bryan reiterated.
"The girls really worked hard and it is harder because there are less persons on the court and they competed hard. We just started practice long-range shots. Even (with) the two-point shot we stumbled a lot right there because we're not used to taking long-ranged shots. We are mainly underneath the post taking one.
New Zealand, South Africa and England... took it from outside like it's the norm. Its really a shootout competition," Bryan pointed out.
Jamaica didn't came home empty-handed, however, as goal shooter Jhaniel Fowler was named the Southern Steel new import player for the 2013 Trans Tasman Netball League in New Zealand.
She will be the fifth Jamaican to play in the world's premier club netball competition since it was established in 2008. The other Jamaicans to have played in the tournament are Romelda Aiken (Firebirds), Carla Borrego (Thunderbirds), Althea Byfield (Pulse/Mystics) and Kasey Evering (Tactix).
Meanwhile Marva Bernard, president of the Jamaica Netball Association ((JNA), said there were positives taken from the tournament as the girls fought hard for their fourth-placed finish.
"There were some positives we took away from it, but the long-range shooters will be so important now because the game is changing," she Bernard.
"We are going to have to find one or two shooters who can give you the basket under the baskets and now the element of the outside shot which not many countries do have... we'll have to work on that," she declared.
But just like the changing game of cricket, the question was posed, whether or not the JNA will be naming two different teams for the different versions of this evolving sport.
"... Funds permitting, we'll have to have a mixture. I know the coach spoke of that and it is to our benefit that we can have that," said Bernard.