Hi Teammates! The title of my book Same Name, Different Game wasn’t chosen randomly. Of course, basketball is pretty much the same wherever you go, but there are subtle and not-so-subtle differences when you just finish college and you play overseas.

Let’s start with the not-so-subtle differences:

-The 24-Second Shot Clock: The 30 seconds you played with in college is gone and you may not think so at first, but those 6 seconds that you will not have anymore make a difference. Point guards will notice it the most.

-Back-court violation: Again, point guards will notice this the most. 

-Four 10-minute quarters: Allows for more rest and more strategy.

-Size of the court: FIBA courts are shorter (94′ x 50” in NCAA compared to 91′ 10″ x 49′ 2.5″ FIBA courts)…good news if you have to run suicides after a horrible practice

-A longer 3-point distance: Might not seem like a lot but makes a difference. (19′ 9″ in NCAA compared to 20′ 6.1 ” FIBA distance)

-Clock stoppage after a made basket: This is a big one for late-game situations. In college, the clock stops during the last minute of the second half and the last minute of overtime. In FIBA games, the clock stops the last 2 minutes of the 4th period and overtime.

-Foul bonus FTs: Also very important for strategy is when teams are in the bonus and how many FTs there are. In NCAA it is the 7th foul per half (one-and-one) and 10th foul per half (two FTs) but in FIBA games it is the 5th foul per period (two FTs)

-Players are allowed to line up during an FT: A minor one but if you are not used to it, you will line up wrong. In the NCAA 6 players are allowed (four defensive, two offensive) but in FIBA games only 5.

-Goaltending on or inside the cylinder: When done correctly, this is a major plus for the defense. In FIBA games you are allowed to knock the ball off the rim or even hit the ball if it is in the imaginary cylinder above the rim.

-Timeouts: Especially for American players, this is important. In NCAA games the player is allowed to call for a timeout while the ball is in play. In FIBA games this is not the case. Only the coach can call a timeout which will be given during the next dead ball situation.

The more subtle differences are dependent on the country and level you are playing in. For example, in the Euroleague, the refs let more physical play go than in normal league games. Travelling is also called differently. Americans are less likely to be called for it in the Euroleague with their first step.

In general, there is more importance given to ball movement and spacing and less on 1 on 1 moves. If you have a European coach and you would like to be subbed out of the game, dribble 1000 times and take a shot with a hand in your face. You will surely hear a teammate say, ”Hey I got you. Who you got?”

There are many other differences but you just have to experience them. That is part of the learning curve that every player must go through. The quicker you can adapt, the better.

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