IRAN coach Mehran Shahintab confirmed on Sunday that Sahmad Nikkah Bahrami and Hamed Haddadi will not suit up for the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers against the Philippines on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Bahrami played a key role in Iran’s 81-73 win over the Philippines last September 13 by topscoring with 21 points while Hadaddi played less than a minute as the former NBA player was saddled with an injury.
Shahintab explained the veteran duo's absence.
“(Bahrami) is living in the United States so he couldn’t come. As you know, Hadaddi has a personal reason. I heard that he has signed with Xinjiang in China because he was engaged with the club,” said Shahintab.
Also not suiting up for Iran against the Philippines on Monday are Saijid Mashayekhi and Arsalan Khazemi, who scored 19 and 11 points, respectively, during their home win over Team Pilipinas.
The four key players of Iran were sorely missed on Friday in the match against Australia which Iran lost, 76-47, to fall to 6-3. Iran though stayed in second place in Group F after Team Pilipinas lost to Kazakhstan, 92-88.
Still, Shahintab hopes to make the match competitive against Team Pilipinas.
“We will try our best. We have a young team and some motivated players. They will try their best. We played terrible against Australia. We will try to compensate that tomorrow,” said Shahintab.
“We used our home advantage,” said Shahintab on the win last September against the Philippines. “I respect Philippine basketball. It was a (good) game and we used it (homecourt advantage). This is completely different. They (Philippines) will come in with new players and they have very good fans. We will try to surprise you.”