Stricter rules promises free-flowing EuroLeague action

Fans can expect more free-flowing game action than ever – with fewer plays stopped by unwarranted fouls – thanks to the stricter application of long-standing rules this season in both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup.

Turkish Airlines EuroLeague head coaches and the Euroleague Basketball Officiating Department agreed on the stricter rules application this summer.

As such, all fouls committed without “a legitimate attempt to directly play the ball within the spirit and intent of the rules,” as stated in Article 37.1.1. of the Official Basketball Rules, will now be called unsportsmanlike, resulting in two free throws and possession for the attacking team.

“It’s going to speed up the game,” Sarunas Jasikevicius, EuroLeague Legend and Zalgiris Kaunas head coach, said. “I think fans love the transition game a lot and want to see the action change sides quickly. This hopefully will stop the game less and we’ll have more points and more possessions. I am with it.

“We coaches agree it’s very good and it’s important that we were part of the decision. This is our life. We work at the game on a daily basis. We love the game and care about it. To discuss with the officiating department and agree on something like this is all for the good of the game.”

The change will be to penalise out-of-position defenders who foul offensive players without making a legitimate defensive play. Until now, teams could use such fouls almost without penalty in order to reset their defenses, or at worst to give up no more than two points as free throws. Under the new strict application, such fouls could turn into four-, five- or six-point plays for their opponents. As before, players who commit two unsportsmanlike fouls of any kind are disqualified from the game, as per the official rules.

“If, as before, a team can stop the opponent from running the break without almost any effort or penalty, it harms the game,” veteran coach Aito Garcia Reneses, a long-time proponent of the change, said. “Now, once the referees begin calling it, everyone will stop making those kinds of fouls because it will no longer give them an advantage.” Taking away the defense’s advantage, Coach Garcia Reneses said, will encourage faster play in general.

“Before, some teams fell into the trap of not trying to run if the other team was always going stop them from doing so with a foul anyway,” he said. “Now, some teams will work on trying to break more, and other teams will work on defending fastbreaks without relying on easy fouls. Pretty soon, the game won’t stop as much. Besides faster play, there won’t be as many interruptions. This will bring back the spirit of non-stop action to the European game.”

The eventual net effect should be that fans can’t afford to take their eyes off the floor action for even a moment.

“Fans like speed and this will give the audience a more spectacular game,” Coach Garcia Reneses said. “Anything is positive that favours the European style of constant action, speed and intelligent play. This change does that.”

Official Basketball Rules

Art. 37 Unsportsmanlike foul

37.1. Definition

37.1.1. An unsportsmanlike foul is a player contact foul which, in the judgement of an official is:
• Not a legitimate attempt to directly play the ball within the spirit and intent of the rules.
• Excessive, hard contact caused by a player in an effort to play the ball.
• Contact by the defensive player from behind or laterally on an opponent in an attempt to stop the fast break and there is no defensive player between the offensive player and the opponent’s basket.
• Contact by the defensive player on an opponent on the court during the last 2 minutes in the fourth period and in each extra period, when the ball is out-of-bounds for a throw-in and still in the hands of the official or at the disposal of the player taking the throw-in.
37.1.2. The official must interpret the unsportsmanlike fouls consistently throughout the game and to judge only the action.
37.2.3. A player shall be disqualified for the remainder of the game when he is charged with 2 unsportsmanlike fouls.