No Haddadi, Bahrami for Iran in clash vs Gilas
MANILA, Philippines – Two of Iran's top basketball stars won't be around when it takes on Gilas Pilipinas in the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers.
The Iranians will miss the services of Hamed Haddadi and Nikkhah Bahrami as they try to repeat over the Filipinos at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday, December 3.
And this just might be the perfect opportunity for Gilas to get back on the winning track following a tough 88-92 home loss to Kazakhstan last Friday.
"Nikkhah Bahrami is living in the United States, he couldn't come," Iran head coach Mehran Shahintab told Filipino reporters on the eve of the match.
"Also, as you know that Haddadi has a personal reason. I heard that he signed in with the Xinjiang in China because he was engaged with the club."
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, Haddadi and 6 other players refused to join the national team.
Without their mainstays, the Iranianans lost back-to-back games and dropped to 2nd place at 6-3 in Group F.
The Filipinos will now look to pounce on the absence of Haddadi and Bahrami, the duo that has, time and again, proven to be a thorn on the side of the Philippines.
Bahrami poured in 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Iran to an 81-73 win over Gilas in Tehran during the fourth window.
Haddadi, meanwhile, can always change the complexion of the game with his towering 7-foot-2 frame. Also, he is a four-time FIBA Asia Cup Most Valuable Player for a reason.
Gilas faces a must-win situation to peel away from a share of 3rd place with Japan at 5-4 in Group F. Only the top 3 finishers are guaranteed spots in the 2019 World Cup. – Rappler.com