Normally, in basketball, the referees have not much power to decide a game like in soccer where it is possible to go for red cards or penalties. In basketball this is more difficult because of the higher number of points involved and the non-existence of reducing one team’s number of players on the court. However, what happened on Wednesday in Le Mans makes me think a bit about this.
In the Euroleague game between the French Le Mans and the Lithuanian team Lietuvos Rytas, everything was set for having a close and great last minute. The score was equal and the Lithuanians had the ball to play an offense at 40 seconds left in the game. On a pick and roll situation, the French forward Nicolas Batum came out and simulated a moving screen by falling down on the pick. Something that happens often in basketball games.
According to the rules, it is possible to call a technical foul on such a situation from this season as you could see during the Eurobasket 2007 several times. However, during this game, there has been some situation close to this one, and nothing happened. But now, at 40 seconds before the end of the game and an equal score, Batum got whistled a technical foul for his flopping action.
I mean, I can understand that the decision is made according to the rules, but in a game, where there has been not one such call, and nobody has been warned before about this, and in such a crucial moment, it is somehow strange to make such a call. You could have given a normal foul to Batum, and everything would have been ok, but this was going to far. Rytas made both FTs and got the ball on the midcourt and scored another basket and the game was done.
How can this happen? I mean, Batum made error by flopping on the screen, but to go for such a call on such a situation is exaggerating. Nobody was happy with it, even the winners were not agreeing on this if they had been asked. When you check the official game report on euroleague.net or watch the video recap of the game on the HP of Le Mans, you don’t get a detailed explication about it, not even in the official quotes after the game.
However, when you check the French press, Vincent Collet, the coach from Le Mans, is more direct concerning this last situation.
It was a huge error by the referee, which cost us the game.
Unfortunately, I can not find a video of that situation on the net to let neutral observers judge the situation but for French people, it was a very bad call. Especially as it was the Italian referee Facchini that made the call and who is not very much appreciated in France after some games he officiated with French teams included.