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Basketball 101: Rules

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Basketball 101: Rules

A brief overview of the rules of Olympic basketball

Scoring:
Two points are awarded for a field goal made from inside the 3-point arc and three points are awarded for a field goal made from behind the 3-point arc. One point is awarded for a made free throw. The team with the most points at the end of four quarters wins the game. If it is tied after four quarters, an overtime period of five minutes is played. The teams continue playing overtime periods until one team wins. 

Olympic basketball is played according to rules set forth by FIBA, the sport's international governing body.

Here's how FIBA's rules compare to those of the NBA and WNBA.

Duration of game:

  • FIBA: Four 10-minute quarters
  • NBA: Four 12-minute quarters
  • WNBA: Four 10-minute quarters
     

Shot clock:

  • FIBA: 24 seconds
  • NBA: 24 seconds
  • WNBA: 24 seconds
     

Backcourt violation:

  • FIBA: 8 seconds
  • NBA: 8 seconds
  • WNBA: 8 seconds
     

Game clock stoppages after successful field goal:

  • FIBA: The last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter and each overtime period
  • NBA: Last minute of the first, second and third quarters and last two minutes of the fourth quarter and each overtime period
  • WNBA: Last minute of each quarter and overtime
     

Foul limit:

  • FIBA: 5
  • NBA: 6
  • WNBA: 6
     

Technical fouls:

  • FIBA: Count toward disqualification
  • NBA: Count toward disqualification
  • WNBA: Do not count toward disqualification
     

Bonus free throws:

  • FIBA: Two free throws are awarded on the fifth foul of each quarter; overtime periods are considered part of the fourth quarter.
  • NBA: Two free throws on the fifth foul of each quarter; if limit has not been reached by the final 2 minutes of each quarter, teams shoot two free throws on the second foul. Two free throws are awarded on the fourth foul of overtime.
  • WNBA: Two free throws are awarded on the fifth foul of each quarter. If the limit has not been reached in the final minute of each quarter, teams shoot two free throws on the second foul. Teams shoot two free throws on the fourth foul of overtime.
     

Time permitted on foul shots:

  • FIBA: 5 seconds
  • NBA: 10 seconds
  • WNBA: 10 seconds
     

Lane violation during free throws:

  • FIBA: If anyone other than the free throw shooter steps into the lane before a shot and the free throw is successful, no violation is called. If an opponent of the free throw shooter steps into the lane before a shot and the free throw is not successful, another free throw attempt is awarded to the shooter.
  • NBA: A successful free throw is forfeited if a teammate has stepped into the lane, but not if an opponent steps into the lane. If an opponent steps into the lane before a shot and the free throw is not successful, another free throw attempt is awarded to the shooter.
  • WNBA: A successful free throw is forfeited if a teammate has stepped into the lane, but not if an opponent steps into the lane. If an opponent steps into the lane before a shot and the free throw is not successful, another free throw is awarded to the shooter.
     

Timeouts:

  • FIBA: Five one-minute timeouts (two at any point in the first half, three at any point in the second half); one timeout per overtime period; unused timeouts may not be carried over
  • NBA: Six full (one-minute) timeouts during regulation; no more than three timeouts in the fourth quarter and no more than two timeouts in the final two minutes of regulation. Three full timeouts per overtime period; no more than two timeouts in the final two minutes of the extra period. One additional 20-second timeout per half, two total per game, including overtime.
  • WNBA: Two full (one-minute) timeouts and one 20-second timeout per half; 20-second timeouts not used in the first half will carry over to the second half. One full timeout and one 20-second timeout each overtime period, plus one unused 20-second timeout carried over from the second half if available.
     

Timeouts called by:

  • FIBA: Coach, only after a basket by the opposing team or a deadball situation
  • NBA: Player or coach, when his team has possession or during a deadball situation
  • WNBA: Player or coach, when her team has possession or during a deadball situation
     

Tie-ups decided by:

  • FIBA: Alternating possession
  • NBA: Jump ball
  • WNBA: Jump ball
     

Basket interference:

  • FIBA: A player on offense may touch the ball when it is on the rim or within the cylinder
  • NBA: No player may touch the ball when it is on the rim or within the cylinder
  • WNBA: No player may touch the ball when it is on the rim or within the cylinder

Basketball 101

Learn more about basketball:

Basics | Rules | Competition format | Olympic history | Venues | Glossary

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