Late breaking news: Iran finalizes its Olympic Qualifying Tournament team. And guess what? Their lineup is missing some big names that are practically synonymous to Iranian basketball.
Names like Hamed Afagh, Mehdi Kamrani, and even Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, a transcendent do-it-all forward who averaged 17.0pts and 6 rebounds for the Zheijiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball League.
The reason? My guess is age. While Bahrami is still as effective as ever at age 33, Kamrani (34 years old) has been exposed by our very own Jason Castro in the last 3 years as someone who can no longer keep up with the young turks of Asian basketball. Afagh, a key reserve, is also 33 years old, and in the same boat as Kamrani.
Replacing them in the lineup are several youngsters who will no doubt take over the reins of Iranian basketball. These youngsters include 21 year old Behnam Yakchali, Sajjad Mashayekhi (22), Sedighi Amir (23) and Arman Zangeneh (23).
Yakchali, in particular, was very effective against both Gilas Pilipinas and China in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup and seems primed to be the next Iranian basketball superstar.
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