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Haddadi wins battle in the paint but Iran fall to Serbia
GRANADA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Iran fell to Serbia on Day 3 for their third loss in a row, but Hamed Haddadi put on a show, leaving opponents wondering how to stop him.
The 2.18m center - the tallest player in the tournament - bounced back from a poor performance against Brazil on Sunday by scoring a game-high 29 points in a 83-70 defeat to the Serbs.
Hadaddi made sure his four-point performance against the South American would not be repeated, and stepped on floor against Serbia, as he says, "ready to win the game".
The Iranian was simply unstoppable in the first half, going into the break with 22 points, three boards and a block shot under his belt as Iran trailed 42-38.
Serbian Miroslav Raduljica got his second foul early in the game as a result of his attempts to stop a highly-motivated and engaged Hadaddi.
Coach Sasha Djordjevic called on Rasko Katic for Radljica, but Haddadi was on fire. However, his dominance didn't last much longer as the Serbians forced him to pick up his fourth foul just before halftime.
The 29-year-old returned to the court but didn't play with the same appraoch as in the first half for fearing fouling out.
Coincidentally - or not - this is when Raduljica stepped up his play, scoring nine of his 13 points to help Serbia bounce back from their one-point defeat to France on Sunday.
"It was very hard to guard Hadaddi because he is a very good player," Raduljica said afterwards.
"It was difficult for us (to stop him on one-and-one situation), but especially on two-and-two and pick-and-roll game.The bottom line is that he is a good player.
"We didn't play good defence on him.
"Of course it is more comfortable when he is out, but it is only one game and we won it, which is the most important thing. He can score hundred points, but we won it," he added.
Nemanja Bjelica, who finished with a team-high 18 points, added: "He is a very good center. We did not control him well. We did our best, but the most important thing is that we won the game."
The Iranian big man, meanwhile, says he's had these types of performances in his career, but regretted losing the game.
"That's what basketball is like. Sometime shots go in, and then you get in foul trouble," he explained.
"I was ready for everything. I wanted to win today, but my fourth foul was not a foul."