C’mon ref… make the call

Can you make the call?

Ever wondered how much you know about the rules of basketball?  Well, this is your chance to find out.

FIBA are always updating the rules to be more in line with the modern game.  Players, coaches and referees need to keep up to speed with these changes and make sure that they know how to apply them correctly.

Each week, we will pose a number of your questions on a Friday and, on the following Wednesday, the answers will be published in the post with an explanation.  Then you can see how well you really know the rules!



Do you have any questions that you have always wanted to know?  Or, did something happen in a game and you didn’t get the chance to ask the referee?

Once we have a few questions or scenarios, we will present another post detailing the chosen one. You can then try your hand at explaining the right call in the comments section and check back on Wednesday to see whether or not you were right.

There are of course a few rules;

  • All questions should be constructive – no criticism/slander
  • Please remember that subjective questions can’t be answered – try to keep the questions rules orientated.

Get in touch with your questions via contact form, twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below.


After a successful schoolboy career in St. Malachy's College, Paul moved on to on/off stints as a varsity player and local league player for UUJ. Having completed his refereeing course as a junior in summer 2000, and doing the odd game in Belfast, Paul soon realised that he was becoming a better official than he ever would be a player. He hung up his boots for the preference of a whistle in 2004 and began refereeing consistently as part of the National League Panel. In 2006, he won the "Young Referee of the Year" award from Basketball Ireland (exactly 100% more awards than ever received while playing) and in 2008 moved to the panel of referees for the Irish Men's Superleague where he has been a regular fixture for 4 seasons.


  1. Will Ferrell

    / Reply

    I was playing a game the other day and i made this play called the ‘alley oop’ but the ref (Father Pat) called a travel then changed his mind to a foul then two fouls?!

    what is this black magic?

    PS- E.L.E.

    • Paul Bullock Post author

      / Reply

      Will I don’t know what to say – but I know your mom wouldn’t cheat in your dreams!!

      But I believe that Monix was right that it cant be a foul without touching another player, and it cant be a travel without establishing a pivot foot.

  2. John Smith

    / Reply

    What exactly is the 3 seconds in the key rule all about? Seriously, I feel like there is zero consistency in the leagues in Northern Ireland! If a player doesn’t touch the ball, should he/she be called for 3 seconds? Or if a player is in there for constantly in the key for 4/5 seconds and doesn’t get called for 3 seconds but then he/she picks up 10 offensive rebounds throughout the game?

    Help me to understand this better!

    • Paul Bullock Post author

      / Reply

      Hi John – You will be happy to know that I will probably write a post on the 3 seconds as a stand alone piece. We are always trying to educate the officials at a local and national level, and the 3 seconds is often the most confusing call for players/coaches. Hopefully you will come back to read the post when it is completed.

  3. Curious George

    / Reply

    Are referees allowed to put the ball down on the sideline and start counting the five seconds if the inbounder hasn’t taken the ball quickly enough or the team aren’t all on the court?

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