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U.S. Basketball Fans Learning That The Game's Not The Same Across the Globe

Anthony Davis of the US shoots to the basket and scores against Ukraine during the Group C Basketball World Cup match, in Bilbao northern Spain, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. The 2014 Basketball World Cup competition take place in various cities in Spain from  last Aug. 30 through to Sept. 14. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Anthony Davis of the US shoots to the basket and scores against Ukraine during the Group C Basketball World Cup match, in Bilbao northern Spain, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. The 2014 Basketball World Cup competition take place in various cities in Spain from last Aug. 30 through to Sept. 14. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

The ball was bouncing away, threatening New Zealand's last-chance possession, though if a player could just dive on the floor and corral it, any NBA fan would know what to do.

CALL TIMEOUT!

Nope. Couldn't.

That's not allowed in the international game.

It is acceptable for trying to win to be secondary to losing close — but better not be too blatant if your priority isn't winning at all.

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Turkey trailed by six in the final minute of another contest, and when its opponent inbounded the ball, surely the Turkish bench would scream out the obvious instruction.

FOUL!

Nope. Wouldn't.

Welcome to basketball, international style. Same name, not quite the same game as in America. Not in the way the sport is played, officiated, or strategized.

"It's similar, but in anything, you take something from the East Coast to the West Coast in the United States, it's a little bit different," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Being a successful coach in international tournaments requires more than just a good playbook. Sometimes it takes a good calculator.

Mike Fratello learned that the hard way.

In his first tournament coaching Ukraine in 2011, his team was eliminated by a point differential tiebreaker. So the longtime NBA coach wasn't particularly surprised when Turkey opted not to foul in the last 30 seconds of its first-round matchup with the Ukrainians, settling for a six-point loss rather than try to prolong the game and risk losing by eight.

"We know from our first year that we did not advance to the next round because of point differential," Fratello said. "We were tied with two other teams, Georgia, ourselves and Bulgaria, the three of us tied with 2-3 records. Georgia moved on because of point differential. So it's huge here, it really is."

Unfortunately for the TV analyst known as the "Czar of the Telestrator," Fratello still isn't a math major. His squad was again ousted on point differential even more painfully, falling short by one point.

Lose close, lose big, whatever. Sometimes, all that matters is losing.

Teams seem more than willing to tank games — to purposely lose — for what coaches feel would be a more favorable matchup.

Spain appeared to do it against Brazil in the 2012 Olympics, moving the Spanish to the other half of the bracket so they didn't get the Americans until the gold-medal game.

And that seemed the mission for Australia in its final game of group play against Angola, when the Australians rested regulars, played defense with the intensity of a Spanish siesta, and blew a big lead in falling 91-83. That dropped them out of position to face the U.S. until the semifinals, with an intent that looked so obvious that FIBA has launched an investigation.

When it happened, Slovenia's Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns blasted them on Twitter. But despite his anger, the Slovenians eventually blamed themselves for not double-checking their path and their math.

"Like I said, this is our fault. Other team, they calculate, we didn't," said Dragic's brother, Zoran.

As for the game itself, there are other differences:

— The FIBA version is shorter than the NBA's by eight minutes, with a closer 3-point line and a different ball.

— Only coaches can call timeouts — U.S. guard Kyrie Irving forgot that in an earlier game — and only when the ball isn't live, negating the ability to regroup if a possession is going poorly.

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