NBA vs. FIBA: Seven Rules To Play By
September 1, 2010
NBA vs. FIBA: Seven Rules To Play By
Even though Basketball is an American creation, International rules vary greatly from the NBA. The average NBA fan generally doesn’t know what many of the differences are between the two governing bodies.
With the FIBA Men’s World Championship in full swing, here’s a guide giving you a rundown of the most important things that you may need to know and what the players need to follow in order to win.
While the NBA catches a lot of flak for being what many consider to be a poorly officiated sport, referees in International play are generally considered to be far more inconsistent than their American counterparts. They tend to overlook things such as moving screens and hand checking while being more critical of traveling violations.
As European players are notorious for being floppers, an odd distinction between the NBA and FIBA is that referees allow much more contact during play. US players will not get the “superstar treatment” they are afforded in the NBA. Get used to seeing the puzzled look on US players faces as they get bumped on their wild forays to the basket.
Even though Team USA employs and utilizes a rather deep squad, players have a five foul limit before they are ejected. That extra sixth foul allowed in the NBA can be a game changer when it’s your best player getting the boot.
With the lack of depth along the front line, Lamar Odom will play a pivotal role if Team USA wants to make a deep tournament run. Tyson Chandler has been abysmal thus far and his role has come into question as of late. While Kevin Love has been consuming rebounds like Lindsay Lohan does alcohol, he lacks many unique skills that Odom brings to the table.
Two penalty free throws are automatically awarded when five team fouls are accumulated. While this is the same for both organizations, the difference comes from how those fouls are called. The International game counts both personal and player technical fouls toward the Team Foul count, with offensive fouls being excluded. Both defensive and loose ball fouls are the only ones tallied in the NBA.
In the NBA, timeouts may be called at any time during team possession by both players and coaches alike. With FIBA rules, timeouts must be registered by the coach at the scorer’s table and can only come during a stoppage in play. This became an issue during Larry Brown’s disastrous stint as coach of Team USA during the 2004 Olympics.
Timeouts are utilized rather sparingly in the NBA, which allows six regular timeouts during regulation with an additional 20 second timeout per half and overtime period. Due to broadcast obligations, there are also obligatory “TV timeouts” mandated by the referees.
FIBA, in comparison, only allows one 60 second timeout per quarter with two granted in the fourth.
How the American players adjust to the basket interference rules will play a large part in the success of Team USA.
During FIBA play, once the ball hits the rim it’s fair game. You can reach up and swat it away or tip it in.
In the NBA, as long as the ball is above the rim, it cannot be touched. Any contact results in an automatic interference violation.
While American players are fully aware of this rule change, they’ve been conditioned otherwise. That slight hesitation to swat a potential bucket away, following the instincts instilled in them, can be the difference between two points and an extra possession.
The court dimensions are slightly smaller on the International playing field. Dimensions are measured at 94′ x 50′ for the NBA and 91’10” x 49’2.5″ for FIBA.
As a result, the three point line scales down along with the court size. The FIBA three point line measures at 20’6″ while the NBA is at 23’9″. This considerable gap puts an emphasis on shooting, one of the two major reason why the International game values big men with range.
The other reason shooting big men come at a premium stems from the trapezoidal shape of the key (a.k.a. the “Paint”) in FIBA rules. The distances are set at 12′ at the free throw line and expand to 19’8.25″ at the baseline. In the NBA, they use a uniform 16′ wide rectangle.
Post players must play their game differently as they generally get the ball further from the paint. There are no three second rules preventing players from staying in the lane. This allows the defending team’s big man to camp down low and keep the opposing player from catching a deep post pass. Big men with a nice shooting touch excel in this atmosphere because of their ability to attack the basket or pull up and shoot a jumper.
Offensive rebounds are also easier to come by during free throw attempts due to the unique trapezoid shape of the key. This has a dire effect on late game strategies.
FIBA games are notably shorter than those played in the NBA. Each quarter lasts only 10 minutes, compared to the 12 the NBA uses. It may seem like an insignificant amount of time, but those quarters add up to eight minutes and quite a lot can happen in that span. Particularly if your team is down and is attempting to mount a comeback.
With the plethora of talent available, Team USA uses a rather deep squad. International teams, however, tend to stick with short benches, allowing their best players long stretches of play.
Conditioning isn’t much of a factor for the US during FIBA play because of the stunted quarters and bench deployment. This is why it is vital for every member of Team USA to constantly push the tempo on offense and go all out on defense every second they’re on the court.