Europcar Referee Review | Round 5

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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..


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Travel Call – New Zealand vs Cairns

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The travel rule changed significantly in 2017 but there were still some plays that remained illegal. One of those illegal plays is where an offensive player touches the floor consecutively with the same foot after ending their dribble or gaining control of the ball. What is important about this play is that we do not want referees to split hairs picking travels that can only been assessed on review. This is a good example of an obvious travel under the changes to the rules in 2017.

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Let’s examine the play. In this example, #5 Black ends his dribble and jumps off his left foot (gather step and zero count), then lands on his left foot again (step 1) before taking a step on his right foot (step 2) and scoring. This play was called a travel and the score cancelled as #5 Black’s first two steps (gather step and step 1) after ending his dribble were with his left foot (the same foot).

OUTCOME: Correct Travel Call


Backcourt Violations

The backcourt rule changed around 2008. The biggest change for basketball people was around when and how the ball would be established in the frontcourt. This meant that for the ball to be established in the frontcourt, the player needs to have both feet in the frontcourt, whilst either holding the ball, having caught the ball, or dribble the ball. All of these elements then mean the ball is now in the frontcourt.

For many of us who have been around basketball for many years this is a big change in approach. It does throw up some strange situations that used to be automatic backcourt violations but are now legal plays. We have selected two clips to illustrate how the changes are applied.

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Clip 1 – Backcourt Violation

White team is control of the ball in their frontcourt when #13 White has the ball knocked out his hands by defender #6 Black. In the ensuing loose ball, #13 White knocks the ball back into the White team backcourt, chases the ball down with #6 Black in pursuit, then is first to touch the ball in the White team backcourt. The Trail referee calls a backcourt violation on the White team. If a player of a team in control of the ball is the last to touch the ball in their frontcourt and then the first to touch the ball in the backcourt in the same loose ball situation, the team in control of the ball has caused the ball to be illegally returned to the backcourt. The White team was in control of the ball when #13 White last touched the ball in his frontcourt and then he first touched it in the backcourt on the chase for the loose ball.

OUTCOME: Backcourt Violation – Correct Call.

Clip 2 – No Backcourt Violation

White team is in control of the ball in their backcourt when #7 White passes the ball to #10 White who is standing in the White team’s frontcourt. #10 White tips the ball while trying to catch it but does not gain possession of the ball in the frontcourt. #10 White then enters the backcourt, gathers the ball and passes the ball into the frontcourt. No call is made.

A team in control of the ball is deemed to have entered their frontcourt only when a player of that team is touching the frontcourt with both feet while either holding, catching or dribbling the ball in their frontcourt. #10 White didn’t hold, catch or dribble the ball in the frontcourt on the pass attempt and was permitted to enter the backcourt and gather the ball without penalty.

OUTCOME: No Backcourt Violation – Correct no Call. Play On.


Unsportsmanlike Foul – Melbourne vs Cairns

The changes to the unsportsmanlike foul criteria are intended to keep the game flowing and reduce the number of unnecessary stoppages and fouls in a game. Effectively, tactical fouling opportunities have been reduced and defence is encouraged to either play at the ball or allow play to continue and work to get back into a legal guarding position. If they do not play at the ball then the call will likely be an unsportsmanlike foul for plays like this one. Reducing these fouls will allow the game to flow more and provide more opportunities to score. In real time, players have a difficult decision to make as do the referees on the play.

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After the blocked shot by #17 Black, Melbourne United look to secure the ball and start a transition play. #43 Black knocks the ball ahead of himself to run onto and at that time #15 White comes from the side to contest the play. He is late however and the only way to slow #43 Black is to grab him. Although this may seem an easy play from the stands or on TV there are some challenges here for the referee’s. After the blocked shot the ball transitions quickly to the 1/3rd court area. All referees must also turn and transition at speed to get ahead of the play and be in a position to adjudicate contact.

The new lead referee is running towards United’s basket and looks over his shoulder to officiate the contest. He initially has a normal foul but upon consultation with the trail referee who was on the same side of the court running behind the play, the decision is made to upgrade the call from a normal foul to an Unsportsmanlike foul.

OUTCOME: Correct Call – USF – Criteria 1


Goaltending – Melbourne vs Cairns

Goal tends can be difficult plays to get right because there is a lot happening at one time. The referees need to look at the offense and primary defender. If the offense gets to the rim the secondary defender needs to be identified early to determine if they will guard the player on the floor or challenge in the air. Is there contact on the play, either on the dribble or on the shot. Finally, what happens at the basket in terms of legal or illegal play. This all happens in an instant and the referee must prepare for the play and take a big picture perspective and take in as much information as possible to inform decision making.

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Let’s review this play. In this example the referee is looking for two things on this shot attempt for a field goal. Is the ball touched on its downward flight above the level of the ring or has it hit the back board. By rule goaltending is – Rule 31.2.1 during a shot for a field goal when a player touches the ball while it is completely above the level of the ring and: it is on its downward flight to the basket, or after it has touched the backboard. On this play #7 Black shoots a lay up as 3 White comes across to try and block the shot.  #3 White is slightly late and the ball has already reached its highest point (apex) and is on its way down. The ball does not touch the backboard but because the ball is on its downward path when #3 White touches it goaltending is called.

OUTCOME: Correct Call – Goaltending

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