WONDERING why Hamed Haddadi hardly played for Iran in its game against Philippines on Thursday in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers?
It turned out the longtime face of Team Melli was dealing with a groin injury and coach Mehran Shahintab took the safe route with his 33-year-old center, who was in uniform but played just the final minute with the game all but decided.
Iran went on to win the game, 81-73.
Reports from the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong bared Iranian news outlets became frustrated after being kept in the dark on the status of the 7-foot-2 slotman in the run-up to the game against Team Pilipinas.
It's not just him, though, dealing with an injury as another standout, Arsalan Kazemi, was also in doubt days before the game, though he was able to play against the Philippines.
Haddadi was the main man for Team Iran in its silver medal finish in the recently concluded 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
He averaged 16.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.8 blocks in the four games he played in the Asian qualifiers.
Without Haddadi, Iran is banking on Kazemi, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, and Mohammad Hassanzadeh to protect the paint against the Filipino bigs.