January 12, 2011

FIBA rules leaning the NBA way

Rule changes have been abuzz for a while now for FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball), the globe's dominating authority on all that's right and wrong in basketball. With 214 national federations as members, everyone from world champions' USA to India to the Republic of Benin follow FIBA's laws when conducting the game of basketball. Thanks a lot, Dr. James Naismith.

But just because everyone follows FIBA doesn't mean FIBA doesn't follow someone too - the biggest basketball league in the world, the NBA, has its own set of slightly differing basketball rules. The differences may be negligible to the laymen, but to a serious basketball player or any other technical expert of the game, they're massive. FIBA's new set of rules, started officially from October 2010 but implemented to all FIBA Asia events starting Jan 1, 2011, are starting to lean more and more towards the NBA. Whether it is the extended three-point line or the 'no-charge' area, FIBA is starting to get a little more NBA-ised. And since FIBA controls basketball, basketball is going to get a little more NBA-ised. Deal with it.

There will be several FIBA Asia championships in which India will potentially participate in this year, and thus, have to adhere to this new rules, such as the FIBA Asia Championship, the FIBA Asia U19 Championship, and the FIBA Asia U16 Championship (competitions will be held separately for Men and Women).

In his two part article, FIBA Asia's Technical Director Col. Lee Kak Kuan lays describes these changes well for the FIBA Asia website, offering his own opinion mostly from a refereeing standout about how these changes will affect the game. Here is a quick recap of the major rule changes:

The Restricted Area: The trapezoid that is unique to FIBA has been replaced with the Rectangular Restricted Area, similar to NBA marking. Though the shape has changed, the rules and related interpretations remain the same. The overall area has been increased and uniform to allow better maneuver of the players.

Three-point field goal area: The 3-point semi-circle has been extended from the radius of 6.25 meters to 6.75 meters, making three-pointers ever-so-slightly more difficult. Kuan argues that extending this semi-circle will make life difficult for players in the FIBA competitions, who are mostly amateurs, unlike NBA players, who are professionals. It gives them less space to maneuver between the sidelines on the sides, and of course, makes shooting more difficult.

Kuan says: "We failed to consider NBA is mainly played by professionals. Whereas, FIBA has to cater for the various categories of competitions including the amateurs, the junior boys and girls. It would be a handicap to Asians who are generally smaller built compare with their Western counterparts, to master the 3 pointer shots. Physical and mental strength are vital to produce the power required for consistency in distance shooting."

Throw-in Lines

In FIBA, when a team takes a time-out during the last two minutes of the game, the game re-starts with a throw-in from the half-line. Now, just like the NBA, the throw-in line will be a few meters inside the opponents half.

The No-charge Area

If points were give for charges, then the likes of Shane Battier and Glen Davis might be given a little more respect in the NBA! Also like the NBA, FIBA will now have a no-charge semi-circle under the basket - a small area where a charge will not result in an offensive foul.

Again, this is what Kuan has to say about it: "The introduction of the no charge area is deemed to make basketball game less dramatic instead of improving it. The coach may consider that it would be a disadvantage to have the defense at this area and has to plan its strategy on defense outside the area. Also taking into consideration that more casualties would sustain on legal or illegal contacts taking place here."
"This rule may be good for NBA which is exclusively for the Professionals. As FIBA caters for all levels of championships, it is definitely not feasible for the Junior Boys or Girls (Cadets)"


Like the NBA, the 24-second shot-clock, like the game-clock now starts not when the ball is thrown inbounds but when a player first touches the ball. Also like the NBA, if there are less than 14 seconds left on the shot-clock when the defensive team commits a foul, then the offensive team gets 14 seconds to start with. This used to be 13 seconds before.

A few more minor changes are mentioned in Kuan's and the FIBA articles. But the end-result is clear: FIBA is clearly influenced by the NBA, and it seems to be slowly leaning its basketball to favour the NBA's style of play. For some, this may be great news, as the NBA does indeed feature eye-catching and more dramatic basketball. Others might believe that these changes might hurt the games of Non-American players, who aren't accustomed to the new systems.

In any case, there does exist a Bible/Qu'ran/Manusmriti for all those that subscribe to the religion of basketball. That is the booklet of FIBA's Official Basketball Rules.

Now, it's up to you to decide whether or not FIBA/NBA should really be the word of basketball's higher power!


  1. Should be "less than 14 seconds..."
    "Also like the NBA, if there are more than 14 seconds left on the shot-clock when the defensive team commits a foul, then the offensive team gets 14 seconds to start with. "