NBL’s New First To 7pts Rule Explained

The Sal's NBL will trial a unique concept to help decide tied games when the 2020 competition tips-off in Auckland on June 23.

The 56-game schedule will feature a unique 'First to Seven' rule as the sole overtime period to split two teams equal on points at the end of regulation time.

Some similarities exist with taking the clock out of the game, which has been seen before, but the League hopes the 'First to Seven' brand will stick with coaches believing between two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half minutes will be needed to find a winner. 

The words change and adapt have been used widely as the League works its way back on court during the Covid pandemic. Following the original 2020 season being halted, the competition's new-look format has come with an opportunity to be innovative.

"We looked at a few new initiatives and consulted with our teams," explains NBL General Manager, Justin Nelson, adding "Some didn't make the cut, but this one was very warmly received."

A couple of the key reasons behind the innovative idea was to ensure games didn't run excessively long due to broadcast constraints, while trying to avoid additional workload for players was also a leading consideration.

However, the chance to add something that will have fans and viewers literally on the edge of their seat and riding every shot was an angle Nelson was look for. 

"The 'First to Seven' rule was the one that stood out as an initiative worth taking a look at. It adds a new element and no doubt people in basketball will take a look to see how it works and if it is something worth maybe pursuing in the future.

"We did see something similar in the NBA All-Star game, where the clock was taken out and a target set, but we feel the 'First to Seven' is something that could stick across many levels of basketball. It's not for a one-off game, it's a rule for the competition, including finals.

"It has a nice catch to it from a branding viewpoint, and it makes a bit of sense if you need to keep things running to time.

"Especially for local grassroots basketball that has to fit in a lot of games one after the other, this could be an exciting way to find a winner without the following games being delayed," said Nelson.

With 7pts being the target, teams will need to score an additional three or four baskets, provided of course they don't rack up fouls and send opponents to the foul line.

"It comes down to who can make their shots at the most crucial time. Making or missing shots when you're chasing seven points to win a game will make for good viewing and keep everyone on edge. 

"And that's how sport should be. Engaging and gripping. Hopefully we get some tied games and get to take a look at how the new initiative plays out."

Here's how it works;



1. The overtime period will be decided by a ‘first-to-7pts’ process whereby the first team to score an additional 7 points will be deemed the winner.

2. The overtime period will not be timed.

3. The overtime period will be announced as the first team to reach the +7 score from the score showing at the completion of regular time. For example – if the scores are tied at 80pts each at the end of regular time, it will be announced that the first team to reach 87pts will win the game.

4. The overtime period will commence with a jump-ball in the centre circle. Any subsequent jump-ball call will revert to the possession arrow system.

5. Team fouls will reduce to 2-2 at the commencement of overtime.

6. When a team reaches (5) team fouls during overtime the opposition team will be awarded free throws. That is, the fifth team foul will result in free throws to the opposition.

7. Each team will be permitted (1) time-out during the overtime period.

8. If the team calling the time-out is in possession of the ball, advancement rules will remain in place.



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