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Haddadi and Bahrami return to reinforce Iran in final window
TEHRAN (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Iran will not be a depleted team in the final Asian Qualifiers window thanks to the return of Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami to the national team.
Haddadi and Bahrami were absent from the previous Asian Qualifiers window, where Team Melli split their two assignments, losing to Australia before bouncing back with a big win over the Philippines.
Both Haddadi and Bahrami last played for the national team in 2018 September when Iran recorded an important home win over the Filipinos, 81-73. Haddadi is currently carrying averages of 13.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while Bahrami is sporting a stat-line of 14.4 points, 6.2assists and 4.8 boards per contest.
|19-man Iran pool for the final Asian Qualifiers window|
|Behshad Arabzadeh||Rouzbeh Arghavan||Aren Davoudi||Hamed Haddadi|
|Mohammad Hassanzadeh||Hamed Hosseinzadeh||Mohammad Jamshidi||Sajjad Mashayekhi|
|Meisam Mirzaei||Rasoul Mozafar||Samad Nikkhah Bahrami||Navide Niktash|
|Navid Rezaeifar||Keyvan Riaei||Michael Rostampour||Amir Sedighi|
|Mohammad Torabi||Behnam Yakhchali||Arman Zangeneh|
The comeback of the two veteran stalwarts should give Iran a big boost as they seek to formalize their entry to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. They are in solo second place right now in Group F with 7 wins against 3 losses, and they need just one more win to clinch the group's second ticket to the World Cup in China this year.
Also expected to play prominent roles for Iran are current leading scorer Behnam Yakhchali, veteran wingman Mohammad Jamshidi, back-up big man Meisam Mirzaei and playmaking wizard Sajjad Masjayekhi.
A curious addition is Iranian-American Michael Rostampour. The 6ft 8in (2.03m) Minnesota-born forward has never seen action for the Iran national squad before, but has significant international basketball experience. He is currently playing for Slovakian club BC Prievidza, putting up around 4 points and 4 rebounds per game.
Standing in Iran's way in the final window are Japan and Australia. Team Melli face the Akatsuki Five on 21 February and then finish their Asian Qualifiers campaign against the Boomers on 24 February. Both fixtures will be held at the Azady Gym in Tehran.