By Joel Fitzpatrick, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 12 – The Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games will see one of the most open netball competitions in the Games’ 52-year history with Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea likely to fight for gold.
Samoa and PNG, as the second and third seeds respectively, will need to play extremely well, but for the first time in a long time Fiji might be beatable despite having dominated Pacific netball for a number of years.
Fiji has won six of the nine total Pacific Games gold medals awarded since the first Games in 1963, with the Cook Islands taking the other three.
At world No.7, Fiji sits six places above Samoa, the next best team from the Pacific on the International Netball Federation’s world ranking list, and 12 places above Papua New Guinea.
However, the Fijians have been in the netball wilderness since the 2011 Pacific Games.
Political instability in Fiji led to the team being banned from the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and the process of reinstatement before the 2014 edition of the Games came too late for the team to be included at Glasgow 2014.
Despite these complications, the Fijians will still be a tough beat at Port Moresby 2015.
As top seeds, Fiji has the easiest path to the final, only having to advance from a three-team group, while Samoa and Papua New Guinea will try to come out of pool B, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals.
A competition of seven teams or more would normally require that all teams involved play each other once, but due to time restrictions a pool and playoffs system is to be used.
The quarterfinals will be played on Friday, July 17, at the PNG Power Dome with the finals happening on the following day.
For information about netball tickets call the Pacific Games ticket hotline on 180 2015 or download the ticket purchasing guide.