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MANILA, Philippines – The man regarded as the greatest basketball player Iran produced called it quits.
Hamed Haddadi announced his retirement from the national team on Saturday, September 2, after Team Melli concluded their FIBA World Cup run without a single win following an 81-73 loss to fellow Asian squad Lebanon.
“I know I put everything for my national team,” said Haddadi, the only Iranian to play in the NBA.
The 7-foot-2 giant drew the curtains on a storied national team career that saw him lead Iran to two Olympic appearances and four straight World Cup stints
A member of Team Melli for over two decades, Haddadi powered the squad to three FIBA Asia Cup titles in 2007, 2009, and 2013 before he anchored back-to-back silver finishes in the Asian Games in 2014 and 2018.
One of the most dominant forces in the Asian hoops scene, Haddadi crowned himself the Asia Cup MVP a record four times.
The 38-year-old, though, said he will continue playing professionally.
Haddadi is currently signed with the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association.
“I love basketball. I want to continue playing with the clubs, but national team, I think it is time for the young generation,” said Haddadi.
Although already retired, Haddadi added he is willing to lend the national team a hand in any capacity.
“They need help, anything, I’m here to help them – for World Cup or anything,” Haddadi said.
Iran, which lost all of its five games, ended the World Cup at 31st place out of the 32 participating countries, just ahead of fellow winless squad Jordan. – Rappler.com