The basketball tournament at the 2012 Olympic Games ran from July 28 – August 12 at the Basketball Arena in Olympic Park as well as at the North Greenwich Arena. There were a total of 12 teams taking part in both the men’s and women’s competitions, comprised of 12 players each.
Basketball is played by two teams of five players each. Unlimited substitutions are allowed at any break in the game. The aim of each team is to score in the opponents’ basket and to prevent the opposing team from scoring. The team with the highest score at the end of the second half wins the game.
The Olympic basketball competition for both men and women consisted of a preliminary round, quarter-finals, semifinals and finals. In the Preliminary Round, the 12 participating teams were divided into two groups (A&B) of six teams each. Each team played with the other five teams in its own group.
The four highest ranked teams in each group qualified for the quarter-finals. The 5th and 6th ranked teams in each group were eliminated.
The game is played on a court 15 m x 28 m, with 45 cm diameter netted baskets at each end that are 3.05 m off the ground.
The game is divided into four quarters of 10 minutes playing time each. If the score is tied after 40 minutes, successive five-minute overtime periods are played until the tie is broken. During regular play, a successful shot scores two points if it comes from within a 6.25 m radius of the basket and three points if the player is outside that radius. Foul shots, which are awarded when various infractions are committed, score one point each. Foul shots are free shots which are taken from the foul line, 4.5 m in front of the basket.
Players are not allowed to use body contact either to gain access to the basket, or to prevent an opposing player from gaining access.
Players advance the ball up the court either by passing to teammates or by dribbling (bouncing the ball while walking or running). They are not allowed to hold the ball while moving up the court. Once a player stops dribbling, he or she may not resume dribbling, but must pass or shoot, although it is permitted to pivot, keeping one foot planted. To keep the game moving quickly, each team is allowed 30 seconds in which to shoot the ball at the basket. If a shot has not been taken when that time elapses, the ball is turned over to the other team. If the ball goes out of bounds, the team whose player last touched the ball loses possession and the opposing team returns the ball to play from the point where it went out.
There are several rule differences in international basketball that should be noted by those used to watching NBA basketball, including a 30-second shot clock, a wider key, a shorter three-point line and each team is allowed two time-outs during a half, which may only be called by the coach.