In Romania, referee can’t see, whistles foul anyway, adds technical, possibly shifts semifinal series

While BallinEurope has been focused-to-obsession on the Euroleague and NBA playoffs, basketball marches on all over the world. BiE buddy Adi Micinic of Romania-based Total Baschet, for example, recently told us of a bit of a controversy in the season-ending tournament in his country. Warning: Those intolerant of refereeing errors should not read further. First off, a clip produced by DigiSport…

Romanian basketball is in the international news these days after a controversial whistle by international referee Marius Ciulin during overtime in Game 2 of the semifinal playoff series between CSM Oradea and CSU Ploiesti.

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Sarunas Jasikevicius: “I don’t get” why Team USA players’ traveling uncalled

European fans (and many others) have often noted that NBA players appear to be traveling on many a routine or highlight-clip play, and Team USA backers are certainly shocked at the number of such turnovers their side has been guilty of through four games – seriously, have Lebron James and Kobe Bryant ever racked up so many travels in such a short span?

But old-timer Sarunas Jasikevicius is still seeing some bending of the rules. Saras was quoted over at Talk Basket after the Lithuania-USA game as saying, “I don’t get it. There are FIBA rules [that say that] if a player takes the ball and runs two meters, travelling must be called,” he said. “Maybe the rules will be changed in the future, but at the moment that’s travelling.

“I’m not saying that [the referees] were indulgent towards Americans, or that we lost due to the referees’ fault. Absolutely not. Simply there are rules according to which the play must be whistled; it doesn’t matter if it’s [an everyday player] or Kobe Bryant.”

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Danilo Gallinari: Steve Kerr “hasn’t played basketball for too long”

Did Danilo Gallinari really flop in the final minute of his Denver Nuggets’ recent loss to the Lakers while Ramon Sessions hit a key three? Or did Pau Gasol foul Gallinari on the pick? If the latter is true, why was there no call? After words to the American media to the effect of “It was a tough pick. You’ve got to expect that in the playoffs … I’ve got to be ready and play defense,” he words were a bit choicer in Italian. Enrico Cellini tells BallinEurope about The Rooster speaking out on the Lakers, the referees and especially Steve Kerr.

After accused of flopping in the key moments of game four in the NBA playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, Danilo Gallinari stood up and provided his own j’accuse.

Said Gallinari, in the print version of Italy-based Gazzetta dello Sport: “[The referees] would certainly have called that type of pick on our big guys. It was a crystal clear foul but, as everybody knows, they call fewer fouls for you when you play against the Lakers.”

Gallinari went on to address TNT commentator Steve Kerr, who argued on-air that the play was a Euro-style flop, with “I guess Kerr hasn’t played basketball for too long.”

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A “classic Italian mess”: National basketball federation suspends 15 referees for wearing the wrong uniform

A bit of a weird one from Italy for you this morning … BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini reports on a symbolic protest within his country’s national basketball league which subsequently saw nearly half the Serie A referees – including the well-esteemed Fabio Facchini, one of two Italians who will be calling games at the 2012 Olympic Games – suspended.

On March 17th and 18th, 19 Serie A referees opted for the orange jerseys they used to wear last season instead of the 2011-2012 grey uniforms. Unlike those NBA teams that go for vintage-style uniforms to reminisce about their roots (and sell some more jerseys at their stores), the old-school fashion displayed by the refs was intended as a clear signal to the Italian Basketball Federation and the basketball world as a whole.

The federation got the signal, did not like it at all, chastised the rebel refs and eventually suspended 15 of them!

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Timekeeper tried to extend Lietuvos Rytas’ Euroleague season?

BiE has heard of officiating errors changing the outcome of games, but how about the timekeeper? An egregious mistake has been noticed (and chased down a bit) by some fans and sent on to Lithuanian-language Basket News, one that might be ascribed to computer or human error, if it weren’t so strange.

Toward the end of what would be Lietuvos Rytas’ final Euroleague game in 2010-11, a 77-68 home loss to Caja Laboral Baskonia, the Vilnius arena seemed to enter something of a time warp with the shot clock behaving mighty erratically: While the 24-second clock ticked down somewhat normally (though that, too, appears to be frozen for an extra moment or two in there) while the game clock stayed mostly static for the majority of the 24 seconds. Compare shot clock and game clock in the video below.

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Serbian suspicion confirmed: Photo shows Tunceri stepped out

All Joey Crawford jokes and half-kidding aside, BallinEurope tries not to fault referees for blown calls too often. Nor does BiE want to get into the habit of blaming the zebras for losses; for a long time, the rant from yours truly has been something along the lines of “Well, your team shouldn’t have been in the position so that a blown call could decide it, anyway.”

However, every once in a while, an exception comes along that even the firmest believer in fair play (or at least fair*ness*) is shaken.

Case in point: Kerem Tunceri’s morphing of a Hedo Turkoglu fumble into last-second layup that bounced Serbia from and got Turkey into the 2010 FIBA World Championship final.

Much indignation was felt in Serbia and rage directed at referees for general home team favoritism and for the Tunceri dagger specifically – every online outlet from Serbia to BallinEurope itself hosted some complaint against the men in stripes. An official complaint was filed with FIBA by Serbian authorities after the game, but such protests are hardly rare or infrequent.

While watching the game, BiE noticed quite a bit of “physical” play allowed by the refs, but nothing necessary grievously in Team Turkey’s favor. However, today, thanks to a fan photo taken from the stands, we can all see that a terrible error was made.

Check out this photo; worth the proverbial thousand words of vitriol.

Please also note the gentlemen with the TV camera working for FIBA – he’s particularly easy to see, as he’s wearing red. Notice the angle on the play that he’s got; has anyone seen this video footage since the conclusion of the game? Did anyone see this shot during the game?

Also of note is the referee at right, who appears to be looking directly at Tunceri.

Also, what about instant replay in these situations? Didn’t FIBA employ replays at the ends of halves, as in the NBA, for this tournament? (BiE believes they did…)

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Russia’s own “Artest melee” gets Lokomotiv, Dynamo fines; CEO says “We broke the law”

Those attending last Saturday’s match between Russian Superleague contenders BC Lokomotiv Kuban and Dynamo Moscow in Krasnodar Sports Arena got way more than they bargained for in both positive and negative fashion.

After the hometeam Lokomotiv finally eked out the 94-91 double-overtime win after serious back-and-forth throughout the game, trouble started. Dynamo players had been griping about certain questionable calls by the referees at least through the extra periods – and in fact Dynamo officials filed an official protest with the league concerning the refereeing and the game’s outcome – leading to a scuffle between a Dynamo players and the head referee seconds after the final buzzer.

In a scene reminiscent of the mind-boggling Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers melee of 2004, the conflict soon engulfed coaches, Lokomotiv players and ultimately attendees.

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Interview: Ten minutes with Romualdas Brazauskas

In every single professional basketball game ever played, one team on the floor goes full bore the whole time the clock is running, yet is invisible. In fact, the team that plays this way best serves the fans by remaining absolute unknowns and making as little perceptible impact on the match as possible. We’re talking here about that third team involved in a game of hoops, of course: The referees.

Basketball referees have simply got to be some of the game’s biggest devotees out there. After all, the members of this team are in literally a no-win situation: With little personal individual glory, referees are typically only remembered by a losing team’s fans made indignant with the seething hatred brought on by a questionable call. And the guys and gals in stripes do it all for the good of the game.

Near the tops in his field, Romualdas Brazauskas reckons he’s been a referee for 36 of his 49 years, though he “only” became a FIBA referee in 1987 at the age of 27. Since then, Brazauskas has been acknowledged as a master among those in-the-know and he was one of 11 men nominated for Euroleague “50 Greatest Contributors of All-Time” honors in the refereeing category.

Nowadays, Brazauskas can be seen (if you look for him) in most of the world’s highest levels of competition. A glance at his recent résumé shows that, among others, he called games in the FIBA Oceania Championship 2007, both men’s and women’s competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Euroleague Final Four games in 2008 and 2009 (the ninth and tenth time he’d called games in this round), and the just-finished Eurobasket 2009.

In preparation for regular-season games, he worked the first Maroussi-Aris game in the Euroleague preliminary round.

Off the court, he has held positions with the Lithuanian basketball federation and the Lithuanian basketball association executive committee; Brazauskas was named Baltic Basketball League director in 2007.

Mr. Brazauskas recently took ten minutes to talk with Ball in Europe about his job, keeping in shape and why friendly games are the most difficult for the referee corps.

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