TEHRAN, Iran (4th FIBA Asia Cup): More than a decade ago, Samad Bahrami was the hottest youngster in Iranian basketball. Down the line he has lived up to all the expectations, spearheading Iran to two back-to-back gold medals in FIBA Asia Championships – the triumph at 24th FIBA Asia Championship at Tokushima in 2007 taking Iran to their maiden appearance at the Olympics (2008 Beijing Olympics) and the other two years later at the 25th FIBA Asia Championship at Tianjin (China) paving the way for Iran’s debut at the FIBA World Championship (2010 FIBA World Championship at Turkey).
Therefore, it may not be out of place to say that the 29-year-old Mahram forward the example to follow for the youngsters in the Iranian line-up for the 4th FIBA Asia Cup starting on Friday.
“I don't believe in the words like ‘experienced’ or ‘young’. In my opinion we should categorize players as good or bad,” he said during Iran’s training camp.
“Good players have a place in National team, even if he is 18. He has to be good enough to be chosen for NT, so nothing else matters here. I only use words like that when we have an experienced player and a young player at the same level. In such a situation, we rather give time to that young player,” he added.
“These U18 players have a hard task to do. They should show what they got. Playing Basketball is hard even for us, but for them it is harder. People expect them to be as good as older players so they should put more energy on their work,” he explained.
“But I think this year was the best time for players, who have always nagged about the condition and less opportunity they had. I hope they can do their best with this team,” Bahrami said.
Iran, who fell out of the race for a place in the 2012 London Olympics, losing to fellow WABA team in the quarterfinals of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship, are grouped with hosts Japan, winners of this event in its inaugural edition in 2004 when it was called the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup Qatar, East Asia’s Chinese Taipei and India in Group A of the Prelim round competition at the 4th FIBA Asia Cup.
Iran tip off their campaign with a game against India on Friday. Click here for complete schedule of 4th FIBA Asia Cup.
Reporting inputs from Fereshteh Seyfi Naji in Tehran