Smart Gilas worried as Grizzlies’ Haddadi may join Iran’s team in Asiad
MANILA, Philippines -- Hamed Haddadi missing the Memphis Grizzlies’ last two games isn’t a good sign for the challengers of reigning Asian champion Iran in the basketball competitions of the 16th Asian Games.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas headcoach Rajko Toroman raised on Wednesday this concern after receiving information that the president of Iran’s basketball federation has been in the United States working out a deal for the release of the 7-foot-2 slotman.
“They probably made some arrangements to bring him (Haddadi) back,” said Toroman in a text message.
“He’s not in the lineup of Memphis the last two games.”
It is definitely a cause for great concern since Haddadi, on his second season with the Grizzlies in the NBA, led the Iranians to the crown in the 2007 and 2009 Fiba Asia Championships where he was named MVP on both occasions.
Toroman, who coached the 265-pound pivot man in the 2007 Asian championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, also gathered that Samad Nikkhah Bahrami would also play for Iran in the November 12-27 Guangzhou, China Asiad.
Smart Gilas takes on Kuwait in the preliminary round on November 13. A victory will install the RP five to the second round where Iran, Qatar, Japan and Chinese Taipei are waiting.
After a single-round tussle, the top four teams will battle the top four qualifiers of the other group led by defending Asian Games titleholder China, South Korea, Jordan and Uzbekistan in the crossover quarterfinals.
“Samad is coming back. He’s injured but he’ll carry the Iran flag,” said Toroman. “Iran will become the favorite in the tournament if the two players (Bahrami and Haddadi) are there,” said Toroman.
The Nationals, a durable mix of former collegiate stalwarts and PBA players, arrived in Guangzhou on Tuesday and were scheduled to play against the Guangdong Tigers Wednesday night.
They will wrap up their tuneup matches against the Dongguan Century Leopards on Thursday before the real competition kicks in.