Europcar Referee Review | Round 4

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Thanks to Europcar, each round the NBL’s referees will review plays providing comprehensive explanations around rules and subsequent outcomes, showcasing the decision making required in real time from the NBL’s Referee Panel.

Below are a series of plays and clips from Round 4 of NBL19 that have been reviewed..

Balancing the rights of the offense and defence – Offensive Fouls – Melbourne vs Sydney

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This is a great play to examine. This situation goes to the heart of balancing the rights of the offense and defence to determine how to call a play, what contact takes priority, and what contact is the most obvious to call. The most challenging and difficult plays to officiate involve players moving at pace and moving in different directions. These are sometimes referred to as “bang bang” plays as several judgements have to be made in quick succession with almost no time to assess the impact of illegal contact.

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There are several elements to adjudicate – is the contact legal or illegal, what is the impact of any illegal contact, and the end result of the play. The referee has to determine if and when a defender establishes legal guarding position. Does the defender then jump vertically or not and is there any illegal contact to assess. The next step is for the referee to determine if the offensive player has initiated or caused contact and was that contact legal or illegal.

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Let’s examine the play. On transition Black #17 moves the ball quickly down the court keeping his options open by penetrating down the split line. This simple action creates a challenge as the play does not enter one specific referees area of responsibility to determine who will become the primary official for calling the play. This is important as it will inform the positioning of the referee to find the best look on the development of the play. In the end this play is the responsibility primarily of the Centre referee with secondary coverage falling to the Lead referee.

When Black #17 elevates he uses his right arm to try and protect his space to enable him to shoot. In doing so he extends his arm and makes illegal contact with the face of Yellow #6 prior to illegal contact by the defender. The defender is not completely legal on this play and does not necessarily stay vertical. However, the contact by the offensive player using his off arm to clear out occurs prior to the illegal body contact of the defender Yellow #6. This is the contact that has the most impact. The onus of the contact is on the offensive player.

OUTCOME: Incorrect Call – Offensive Foul


Illegal Screens – Melbourne vs Sydney

When judging on-ball screens, referees have a number of factors to take in to account. It almost works like a checklist of key items for the referee to work through.

  • Is the screener stationary prior to contact?
  • Can the defender see the screen or not? – this implies elements of time and distance for the screener.
  • Does the screener adjust and readjust their position at the point of contact?
  • Referees must also consider if the contact is marginal versus being worthy of a call and then apply those principles consistently to both teams in game. This is important for on ball screens as it is likely the big who will set the screen on a guard. The size difference can make contact look worse than it actually is so the criteria for assessing the screen is important.
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Let’s look at these two examples from the Melbourne v Sydney game as they highlight all those principles. In example one, Yellow #6 sets an on-ball screen on Black #21 but is never stationary prior to contact and adjusts his position at the point of contact. An offensive foul is called on Gold #6.

A few plays later in the same game, Black #20 sets an on-ball screen on Yellow #9 but is also never stationary and adjusts his position at the point of contact. An offensive foul is call on Black #20. Both calls are correct with the screening principles applied consistently to both teams and situations.

OUTCOME: Correct calls – Illegal screens


Unsportsmanlike Foul – Criteria 2 – Excessive

FIBA introduced changes to the criteria for assessing unsportsmanlike fouls after the 2016 Rio Olympics. Broadly, these changes were introduced to reduce excessive and hard contact plays to protect players, also to reduce unnecessary stoppages and increase the flow of the game. For context, this play is similar in application to the NBA rule for a Flagrant 1 foul. It is heavy contact that could cause injury and it should be avoided.

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Contested plays at the basket need several aspects analysed. On this play Orange #12 makes excessive hard contact with White #17. The referee in this instance must decide whether this is a legitimate play at the ball or whether the contact is hard or excessive. The wording of the rule for an unsportsmanlike foul criteria 2 is – excessive, hard contact caused by a player in an effort to play the ball or an opponent.

Let’s examine this play. Orange #12 elevates on the ball fake by White #17 and becomes airborne. As he lands on White #17 he grabs him and aggressively throws/pushes him to the floor so that he cannot get a shot attempt away. This is excessive hard contact and by rule regardless of whether he was airborne or not is illegal by rule under article 37 1.1  bullet point 2. The referees are able to use the instant replay system (IRS) for these plays to ensure the decision for unsportsmanlike is correct.

OUTCOMECorrect Call – Unsportsmanlike foul – Criteria 2


Act of Shooting – Sydney vs Illawarra

Act of shooting plays in the paint can be interesting plays to review for the bigs. The key elements to identify are when the ball has come to rest in the hand/s of the offensive player and is there a continuous motion to the basket. Add to this picture, the referee must determine if the foul occurred before or after the ball has come to rest in the offensive players hand(s). Sometimes these plays are straight forward and in other circumstances they happening very quickly and can be difficult to judge. This example is quite simple.

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Let’s examine this play. Purple #6 drives to the basket and is fouled by White 13 while in the act of shooting. The referee calls the foul and counts the basket. Purple #6 starts his continuous movement in the act of shooting when the ball comes to rest in his left hand just prior to the illegal contact by White #13. The basket should count and one free throw awarded to Purple #6.

OUTCOME – Act of Shooting – Correct Call

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