The rules of the game
Basketball is played by two teams, with five players on the court and a maximum of 5 to 7 substitutes depending on the country or championship. Each team aims to score more points than its opponent by scoring baskets and by preventing the opposing team from doing the same.
The match is divided into four quarters of ten minutes each under FIBA rules, and four quarters of twelve minutes under NBA rules. The clock is stopped each time the referee blows the whistle (if there is a foul, the ball goes out of bounds, etc.). Each team can substitute one or two players when play is stopped or during time-outs.
At the beginning of the match, the referee starts play with a jump ball. For this, one player from each team (generally the one who jumps the highest) stands opposite his/her opponent, behind the centre line, facing the basket that s/he is attacking. The referee then throws the ball above the two players, who must hit it with their hand for one of their team-mates to catch. At this moment, play begins.
The players must manipulate the ball with their hands. Touching the ball deliberately with any part of the leg is forbidden and a violation of the rules.
The ball is out of bounds whenever it bounces onto or over the boundary line, or when it is touched by a player who touches or crosses the boundary line. Unlike in football, it is not the absolute position of the player or the ball that counts, but the place where the ball bounces or is supported from (so a player can dive out of the court and save the ball, as long as s/he releases it before taking a step over the boundary line).
Because play takes place in real time, there is no stoppage time like in football. A buzzer sounds as soon as the final second of each period has passed, but a successful shot after the buzzer can be counted if the player has released the ball before the buzzer was sounded.
At the end of the match, the team with the highest number of points wins. In the event of a tie, a further five minutes' extra time is played to decide the match, regardless of what stage of competition is at stake. If at the end of extra time the scores are still even, another round of extra time is played. There are therefore never any tied matches in basketball (apart from where a final phase is to be decided by two matches: here, there can be a tied match in either of the two matches, as the winner will be decided by adding the points from the two matches together.)