Basketball is a fast-paced team sport played on a rectangular court between two teams, each consisting of five players. The objective of the game is to shoot a ball through a hoop that is mounted 10 feet high on the opponent’s side of the court, while preventing the opposing team from doing the same.

The game begins with a tip-off, where a referee throws the ball into the air between two players, and the team that gains possession of the ball becomes the offensive team. The offensive team passes the ball around the court, trying to create scoring opportunities and move the ball closer to their opponent’s basket.

Points can be scored in a variety of ways, including shooting the ball from the field, from beyond the three-point line, or from the free-throw line. A field goal is worth two points, a shot made beyond the three-point line is worth three points, and a free throw is worth one point.

The game is divided into four quarters, each lasting 12 minutes at the professional level, although other levels may have different durations. Teams can also call timeouts to strategize and rest their players.

Basketball requires players to possess a wide range of skills, including dribbling, passing, shooting, and defending. It is a physically demanding sport that requires both strength and endurance.

Basketball is played at all levels, from amateur pickup games to professional leagues such as the NBA and WNBA. It is also a popular sport in international competition, with the Olympics featuring a basketball tournament for both men and women.

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