Although this post may be of limited interest to many people, the pickup basketball customs in Guatemala deserve a unique post because they are pretty strange.
1) At the beginning of the game, you shoot free throws. These free throws count for 2 points for some reason, but it seems that both teams get an equal opportunity to shoot them. More research is needed, but it seemed like once a team made a free throw, that team could no longer shoot them. Also, if one of the players on the team (it was a 2-on-2 game) missed his free throw, the other one could rebound the miss and put it back up without taking it back. Weird.
2) The weirdest thing about the rules here has to be what happens after a team makes its free throw. Once the foul shooting is over, that team then has to inbound the ball to start their possession. These inbounds passes may be stolen by the opposing team, which may then shoot without taking it back. However, the inbounding team still must take the ball back if the ball isn’t stolen. This exceedingly odd and pointless exercise definitely led my teammate to curse at me in Spanish for not guarding my man on several inbounds passes. Why you ask? BECAUSE YOU DON’T INBOUND THE BALL IN A 2-on-2 GAME!! Anyway, after I suggested we just double-team the guy without the ball he looked at me like I had sprouted a second head. Either my Spanish is bad or they haven’t figured out the pretty obvious flaw with this bizarre system. My guess is the former.
3) These guys love passing. Love it. It’s beautiful. I don’t think I have ever played in pickup games with as many back-cuts and unselfish passes. Frankly, it took a while to get used to, since I haven’t played in a game like that in years. Maybe it is the unselfishness that appears necessary in order to be successful at soccer, maybe it was just the two groups I played with. Either way, it was glorious.
4) This passing fancy (intended) is only limited to games, however. Unlike Chicago, where the pre-game shootaround rules are pretty universal (make a shot, change, miss a shot, cut to the basket, receive a pass, hit a layup); if you pass the ball to a guy who just missed a shot, you are unlikely to ever see that ball again. It is possible Chicago is the oddball here, but this seems strange.
Hopefully, the differences between various countries’ pickup traditions will be an ongoing topic on our blog, but I am not sure how much more of this absurd Inbounding I will be able to take.