HAMED Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami have been the pillars of Iran basketball for over a decade, but both are also approacing the twilight of their careers.
Together with point guard Mehdi Kamrani, Haddadi and Bahrami starred in the golden age of Iran basketball that saw Team Melli win three Fiba Asia championships and earn a ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
However, Bahrami is 35 now while the 7-foot-2 Haddadi is 33. Haddadi also hardly saw action in the last window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers, playing just 59 seconds in Iran's 81-73 win over Team Pilipinas last Sept. 13.
On the other hand, Bahrami seemed to have found an extra gear since making a comeback in the national team. He torched the Philippines for 21 points in Tehran, including back-to-back baskets that sparked Iran's final breakaway.
Will both be present in the grudge match at the Mall of Asia Arena on Dec. 3?
Both Haddadi and Bahrami are not with the Iran team in Qatar, where Team Melli has been playing tuneup games before leaving for Melbourne for its Nov. 30 match against powerhouse Australia.
Still, coach Yeng Guiao said Team Pilipinas will prepare for the Dec. 3 game against Iran under the assumption that both Haddadi and Bahrami will be there.
"We assume that both will be there," Guiao said. "It's easier to adjust if they are not than the other way around."