British Basketball Rules

Written by mark elliott
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British Basketball Rules
Basketball in Britain is played under FIBA rules. (basketball image by align caldwell from

Basketball in Britain is played under the rules set out by FIBA (International Basketball Federation). FIBA is the governing body with control over all international basketball events, including the World Championships held every four years and the Olympic basketball tournament. The game in Britain is administered by the BBL (British Basketball League). The league runs all major professional competitions held on a national level in British basketball, based on the successful business model of the NBA in the USA.

FIBA Rules

While most of the basketball playing world plays under FIBA rules, they differ slightly from those used in North America, most notably by the NBA and NCAA (who themselves use marginally different laws). The major differences include slightly different on-court markings while FIBA rules also state that a game should be played over 10-minute quarters instead of 12-minute quarters as in the NBA. In addition, there are slightly different rules regarding stopping the clock, including the law which states that timeouts may only be called by a coach. In FIBA rules a player fouls out after five fouls of any kind, in the NBA they are ejected after six personal or two technical fouls. Some differences can also be found at the restart of a game after a ball goes out of bounds. These largely concern restricted areas where players may not stand as the ball returns to the court. A full breakdown of the differences between FIBA and North American rules can be found at


The BBL was created in 1987 as the elite, professional basketball competition in Britain. The league championship is contested by 13 franchises over a 36-game regular season. Each team plays every other club three times with two points given to the winners of each game. At the end of the regular season the team with the most points is crowned BBL champion. The top eight teams then progress to the BBL Championship Play-offs and face each other as seeded on the basis of regular season league position. The final is played in a single game and is the major showpiece event in the league calendar.

Cup Competitions

The BBL also runs two national, knockout cup competitions for the thirteen franchises. The BBL Cup is one such tournament which sees each team drawn at random to play another in a one-off, winner take all game. The top three teams from the previous regular season standings receive a bye into the second round while the remaining teams fight it out to join them. The BBL Trophy is played over the same format but no teams receive a bye. Instead, the three top semi-professional sides in the country are invites to compete, thus creating a 16-team first round.

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