- To protect the transition game, greater focus on unsportsmanlike fouls
- New criteria will make Euroleague and Eurocup games quicker and more fluid while reducing the number of interruptions
At the dawn of a new era in continental basketball, Turkish Airlines Euroleague head coaches and the Euroleague Basketball Refereeing Department have agreed on new officiating criteria with the goal of preserving and enhancing the attractiveness of the game for fans.
As part of the Euroleague Basketball Institute Annual Workshops, the coaches and the Euroleague’s officiating director gathered on Thursday at Euroleague Basketball headquarters in Barcelona for their yearly opportunity to discuss in detail officiating and rules interpretations with an eye toward boosting the enjoyment of the competition for all.
Coaches and Euroleague Basketball management observed how in recent years, a strategy of committing fouls was increasingly used to interrupt the game, impacting negatively on the spectacle, especially fastbreaks, and on the ends of close games.
Chief among their decisions was to more strictly apply an existing rule that defines unsportsmanlike fouls when the defender does not make a play for the ball. The effect of the criteria change will be to better promote fastbreak and transition basketball that is more exciting for the fans.
"It's going to speed up the game. 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," Sarunas Jasikevicius, the head coach of Zalgiris Kaunas, said. "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 referees and agree on something like this is all for the good of the game."
According to the Official Basketball Rules (Article 37.1.1), such fouls in which there is "not a legitimate attempt to directly play the ball within the spirit and intent of the rules" should be classified as unsportsmanlike, which would result in two free throws followed by a new possession for the attacking team.
Effective immediately, the referees in both the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and Eurocup will apply this existing rule as it was originally intended.
"The idea is to help with the development of quick offense," Andrea Trinchieri, head coach of Brose Bamberg said. "All of us coaches have always said 'good job' to the player who stops transition with a foul. Now we won't anymore, which is a major change. I believe it's for a good reason, a good purpose and will be good for the game. I am already looking at what to do different in the first practice of the preseason to teach this."
"Following our review of the 2015-16 season, we have analysed many areas of the game and how it is affected by the officiating," Richard Stokes, Euroleague Basketball's Director of Refereeing, said. "We believe that the rule has in recent years not been applied consistently and in many cases it has been incorrect in its application. We have agreed with the coaches and teams for clear guidelines and now our officials will be required to follow those guidelines in order to meet everyone's expectations and to have the game played within both the intent and the spirit of the rules.
"I was extremely happy with the positive and proactive reaction by the coaches to our analysis, which was supported with statistical information showing how the transition game has been strangled in recent seasons. Basketball is an athletic, dynamic and fast-moving sport and we have to protect our sport and provide a spectacle for the fans, within the rules of the game."
Additionally, the referees and coaches also talked about the importance of communication on the court within the guidelines that already exist for behavior between game participants. There was an in-depth discussion with regard to travelling and off-ball play, as well as consideration of instant replay and on how its use may be further utilized in future.
The 2016-17 Euroleague season is set to be longer than ever before with the introduction of a new round-robin format that will see each of the 16 teams play against all of the others twice during the regular season. Accordingly, the new format marked an ideal time to discuss an application of the rules that would both make the game more attractive for fans and enhance its sporting values.
The Turkish Airlines Euroleague head coaches present at the meeting were Velimir Perasovic (Anadolu Efes Istanbul), Andrea Trinchieri (Brose Bamberg), Dejan Radonjic (Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade), Dimitris Itoudis (CSKA Moscow), David Blatt (Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul), Jasmin Repesa (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan), Zeljko Obradovic (Fenerbahce Istanbul), Erez Edelshtein (Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv), Giannis Sfairopoulos (Olympiacos Piraeus), Pablo Laso (Real Madrid), Evgeni Pashutin (Unics Kazan) and Sarunas Jasikevicus (Zalgiris Kaunas).