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Battle of the Behemoths - Satnam Singh meets Hamed Haddadi
BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - When Iran take on India later today, one matchup sure to catch everyone's attention is the battle of the behemoths between Satnam Singh and Hamed Haddadi.
India and Iran have had contrasting directions in Asian basketball the past ten years. Whereas Iran have earned a handful of titles and cemented their place among the elite, India have absorbed a multitude of setbacks before finally improving their stock in the last three years or so. Tonight's contest will be a true test of just how far India have really come, and whether they can really count themselves among the contenders in Asia.
Key Matchup: With both Satnam and Haddadi standing 2.18m, their encounter tonight will certainly be a collision of colossal proportions. Haddadi, of course, is the more seasoned and more skilled individual, owing to his years not just playing for Iran's national team but also playing in the CBA and NBA. That is something Satnam wants for himself, too, which is why he has skipped continental competitions for the past 3 years, toiling in the D-League. With him back in tow for the Young Cagers, India are hoping for an even stronger showing here compared to when they made it to the Quarter-Final in 2015.
Key Stat: Points in the paint could be the critical determining factor in this game. Aside from Satnam, India also have Amritpal and Amjyot Singh to try and slow Haddadi down, but that is certainly easier said than done. Haddadi, despite being in his 30s already, remains an imposing and crafty big man. His versatility is underrated, and he uses that to his advantage. If India do succeed in hampering Haddadi, he will gladly play the role of decoy, enabling Iran's other frontliners - Arsalan Kazemi, Oshin Sahakian and Rouzbeh Arghavan - to wreak havoc. India have to really put the clamps on Iran's frontcourt. If they can limit Team Melli's scoring around the basket, they stand a decent chance of springing an upset.