Team Melli without three stalwarts at FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

February 16, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran will meet Japan and Australia at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers without Hamed Haddadi, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and Arsalan Kazemi.

Team Melli will play Akatsuki Five and the Boomers on February 21 and 24 in Tehran’s Azadi Hall, respectively.

Iran are at solo second spot in Group F with seven wins against three losses.

Australia, the group's top team, have already booked their tickets to China, and Iran are aiming to follow suit.

To do so, Team Melli need to win at least one of their next games at home.

Haddadi has been dropped from Team Melli rooster for two crucial matches after he faced a problem with Iran basketball officials and Nikkhah Bahrami withdrew from the games in support of his teammate.

The two veteran stalwarts were absent from the previous Asian Qualifiers window, where Team Melli split their two assignments, losing to Australia before bouncing back with a big win over the Philippines.

Both Haddadi and Bahrami last played for the national team in 2018 September when Iran recorded an important home win over the Filipinos, 81-73.

Haddadi is currently carrying averages of 13.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while Bahrami is sporting a stat-line of 14.4 points, 6.2assists and 4.8 boards per contest.

If Iran win at least one game, they'll finish with eight wins and four losses, which will be good enough to get them through to the World Cup.

If Iran lose both of their sixth window games, however, it could potentially place them in a three-way tie with Japan and the Philippines if all of them finish at seven wins and five losses. In that unlikely scenario, there's still a slight chance Iran will slip out of the World Cup race.

Reporting by Masoud Hossein

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