Iran fights to keep its 3x3 basketball program alive
BULACAN, Philippines – After a lackluster start to the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2018, the Iran national women's basketball team penned a happy ending to its campaign with a victory over 2nd-ranked Andorra, 21-12, on Monday, June 11.
This win is not only just another addition to the country's record, but it also becomes a beacon of hope to keep the government's support for 3x3 basketball.
"We needed to show this [win] back home for them to continue supporting our 3x3 program," said Iran national women's 3x3 team head coach Nika Nikbikli.
The Iranian goverment is looking to withdraw its support for the country's program in the 3-a-side game, making the World Cup one of the last chances for the women's team to prove that 3x3 basketball is worth the investment.
Iran's win over Andorra also marked the first victory of a hijab-wearing team in a FIBA-sanctioned 3x3 basketball league.
This is a another positive development for Muslim women's basketball players to play in the professional level after International Basketball Federation (FIBA) allowed the religious headwear "hijab" to be worn on the court.
"FIBA [allowed] players with hijab from Islamic countries to play," said Kimiya Yazdian Tehrani.
"It's a great experience to play in this level of basketball. I'm hoping that every year we can play in this kind of basketball."
The Iran national women's basketball team started playing in professional basketball leagues in the 5-a-side format in 2017, and it made its 3x3 debut in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup last May 2018.
Iran ended its 3x3 World Cup campaign with a 1-3 record in the women's Pool C . – Rappler.com