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Guide to basketball


Basketball is played by two teams who score points by throwing a ball into the opposing team's basket. The team who scores the most points are the winners.

Each team has a squad of 12 players to choose from. Five of those players are allowed on the court at any one time, with unlimited substitutions.

Players can move the ball around the court by passing, tapping, throwing, rolling or dribbling.


The game consists of four quarters of 10 minutes each, with a 15-minute break at half-time.

There are also two-minutes interval between the first and second periods, and between the third and fourth periods.

If the game is tied after the fourth period, it continues with an extra period of five minutes, then as many five-minute periods as are necessary to break the tie.


The main officials include one referee and one umpire.

The court is divided between them and they swap places after each foul involving a free throw penalty, as well as after each jump ball decision.

They use whistles and hand signals to make and explain their decisions.

Each game begins with a jump ball or tip-off.

The referee throws the ball into the air in the centre circle and two opposing players leap up and try to tap it away.

Each player is allowed two taps before the ball hits the ground, a basket, a backboard or another player.


Points are scored for shooting the basketball through the hoop.

Two points for a goal inside the three-point semi-circle, and three points for goals scored from outside.

Free throws, taken from the free-throw line and awarded after a foul, are worth one point.

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