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FIBA admits officials’ error in end of Lithuania/France game that eliminated Lithuania


France’s players celebrate after their team’s win against Lithuania at the Basketball World Cup Group L second round game in Nanjing on September 7, 2019. (Photo by WANG Zhao / AFP) (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Let’s set the stage: There were 30.8 seconds left in a tight game between Lithuania and France, with the French leading 76-75 but Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas at the free throw line, ready to take the second of his shots and possibly tie the game.

Valanciunas’ shot hit the rim and bounced around, and in FIBA once the ball hits the rim there is no more goaltending, so France’s Rudy Gobert goes up and swats the ball off the rim — but in doing so Gobert hits the rim. Pretty clearly. Under international rules, once Gobert touched the rim the shot should have counted, the game should have been tied. However, the FIBA officials missed it, no call was made, and France went on to win 78-75.

The loss meant Lithuania was out of the quarterfinals, they have been eliminated (although they have a game left) and France advances to the knockout stage.

FIBA came out the next morning and China and admitted the officials’ blew it and said those referees have been suspended.

Would Lithuania have won the game if the referees got the call right? We’ll never know. France’s Nando De Colo hit a midranger on the other end after this to give France the 78-75 lead, that play would have been different with defenses set. Also, Lithuania would not have had to go for three on the final shot. The ending would have been different, whoever won.

Fans get frustrated with NBA officials, and they certainly do not get everything right, but if you think they’re bad watch FIBA hoops for a while. You’ll come away with a new appreciation. The NBA has the best guys (and a better review system) for what is a very difficult job.