|photo by Justin Gener|
But the PBA explained that Reavis’ move was legal, since the league adopted FIBA rules on goaltending five years ago. A look at the actual FIBA rules bears out the PBA’s position
Goaltending and Interference is covered in Article 31 of the Official Basketball Rules.
Sections 31.2.1 and 31.2.2 define what constitutes goaltending:
31.2.1 Goaltending occurs during a shot for a field goal when a player touches the ball while it is completely above the level of the ring and:These goaltending restrictions apply until the conditions defined in section 31.2.3:
– It is on its downward flight to the basket, or
– After it has touched the backboard.
31.2.2 Goaltending occurs during a shot for a free throw when a player touches the ball while it is in flight to the basket and before it touches the ring.
31.2.2 The goaltending restrictions apply until:There is some vagueness over how the two conditions are written; just by reading it on its face, one can interpret that both conditions must become true, or that only one condition has to be true.
– The ball no longer has the possibility of entering the basket.
– The ball has touched the ring.
In practice, however, the spirit of the rules become clearer. For example, imagine a shot that ends up being an airball. You can grab and tip the ball after an airball, even if the ball never touched the ring.
In this case, only the first condition becomes true, but it still leads to the lifting of the goaltending restrictions.
This means that only one condition needs to be true for goaltending restrictions to be lifted. This makes it legal for players to touch the ball as soon as it has touched the ring.
On Twitter, Barako Bull forward Sean Anthony cited another part of the rules, which reads: “No player shall touch the ball after it has touched the ring while it still has the possibility of entering the basket.”
That sentence is part of section 31.2.5, which reads:
31.2.5 WhenThe sentence highlighted by Anthony only applies during the first two conditions: when an official blows the whistle on or after an attempt (i.e., an and-1 play), or when the clock sounds after an attempt.
– An official blows the whistle while the ball is in the hands of a player in the act
of shooting, or the ball is in flight on a shot for a field goal,
– The game clock signal sounds for the end of a period while the ball is in flight
on a shot for a field goal,
No player shall touch the ball after it has touched the ring while it still has the possibility of entering the basket.
All restrictions related to goaltending and interference shall apply.
Neither of these conditions applied to Villanueva’s shot. This means that it doesn’t matter whether or not the ball has a chance to go in.
Rafi Reavis’ swipe was a perfectly legal move; it wasn’t goaltending.