PBA sets new rules
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has taken steps to make the game more exciting with less delays in the action starting the 45th season with a major rule change involving the reset of the shot clock to 14 seconds on every frontcourt inbound in the last two minutes.

Marcial presented the proposed rule changes during the planning session and meeting with the PBA Board of Governors during the annual conference in Milan last month. Then, Marcial convened this year’s Competition Committee made up of coaches Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer, Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine, Nash Racela of Blackwater and Louie Alas of Phoenix to discuss the changes with deputy commissioner Eric Castro and technical committee officials Bong Pascual, Mauro Bengua and Joey Guanio.

Castro and the technical staff has so far visited the practice gyms of six PBA teams to explain the rule changes. All 12 teams will be briefed before the next season opens on March 8. The new rules will also be applied in the coming PBA D-League conference starting March 2.

Castro said every rule change is significant but singled out the shot clock reset as the most impactful. “On all team possessions that will be inbounded on the front court, the shot clock will be at 14 seconds,” he said. “In the last two minutes, if a team asks for a timeout and opts to inbound on the frontcourt, the shot clock will be only 14 seconds. If the inbound is on the backcourt, the shot clock is 24 seconds or whatever time is remaining on the shot clock. The shot clock will start when a live ball is touched or legally touched by a player on the court.”

Castro said in the last two minutes, if a team in possession inbounds from the backcourt and crosses the mid-court line then calls a timeout, the inbound will be with whatever time is left on the shot clock. “If, for instance, there are 20 seconds left on the shot clock in the last two minutes and a team in possession opts to inbound from the frontcourt, the reset is 14 seconds, meaning there will still be a balance of six seconds on the game clock,” he said. The option gives a coach a chance to make a strategic decision which could be decisive in the last two minutes. 

Another rule change is allowing both teams to make substitutions without restrictions during a 30-second timeout. Previously, a team that called a 30-second timeout had the right to make the first substitution and only if the first substitution was made, could the other team make a substitution. “We used to have a 20-second injury timeout rule where the injured player could be replaced but the other team could not make a substitution,” said Castro. “During commissioner Jun Bernardino’s term, the rule was changed to a 30-second timeout with the team calling the timeout given the right to make the first substitution. Now, we’re allowing substitutions up to five players at the teams’ discretion during a 30-second timeout. If the team that asks for a timeout does not make a substitution, the other team may still make a substitution.”

Castro said snatching of the ball will not be tolerated during a deadball situation. “A player who snatches the ball away from an opponent during a deadball situation shall be given a warning for taunting,” he said. “Once a player from the same team has already been given a warning, a technical or flagrant foul, snatching of the ball shall result in an outright technical foul.”

Castro noted that in a deadball situation, the referee must take control of the ball before it is inbounded. “We want to take away the incidence of a confrontation or some kind of trouble,” he said. “It may happen when a team is called for a traveling violation. The guilty party may hang on to the ball in which case a delay of game warning is given or the other team may quickly snatch it out of the guilty party’s hands, creating a possible confrontation.”

Castro said there will be a new schedule of fines and penalties imposed for flagrant and technical fouls. In a conference, a player that is tagged with a fifth flagrant foul penalty 1 is given a fine ranging from P5,000 to P10,000 with an automatic one-game suspension. A player who is tagged with a fifth technical foul in the conference is fined P4,600 and given an automatic one-game suspension. A flagrant foul penalty 2 will mean a fine of a minimum P20,000 and a suspension at the commissioner’s discretion.

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