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Mehran Shahintab - We couldn't control Japan's stars
“We couldn't control the inside and had too many turnovers. We had some tactical problems.”
Iran started strong in their first Asian Qualifiers meeting with the Japanese, leading by 7 after the firs period and by 5 at the half-time break, but the Japanese flipped the script in the second half and eventually cruised to a 70-56 win.
Seasoned point guard Aren Davoudi admits that his team had miscues throughout the match, especially on the defensive end as they allowed Japan to shoot nearly 50% from the 2-point area.
"We played a little bit bad on defense," Davoudi said. "Japan's shooting percentage was just too high. They played great."
Team Melli head coach Mehran Shahintab echoed these sentiments as he expressed his admiration for how the Akatsuki Five played and described their difficulties inside the paint, especially since they were without big man Hamed Haddadi.
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"We played against a respectable team," Shahintab said. "We had to change our roster, too, because of injuries and some players leaving. We couldn't control the inside and had too many turnovers. We had some tactical problems, and we should have scored more."
The 52-year-old bench tactician was all praises for Japan's budding young talents led by recent NBA signee Yuta Watanabe and US NCAA star Rui Hachimura. Shahintab admitted that Japan just had too much firepower in their frontline and that his wards couldn't control their opponents.
"They had great players under the basket - Yuta Watanabe, Rui Hachimura, Ira Brown and also Joji Takeuchi - and they had the advantage inside," he explained. "We just couldn't control them. Hachimura has a great future. He can improve on some technical things, but he did very well against us."
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The 6ft 8in (2.02m) Hachimura torched Iran with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in a scintillating performance. He has been the biggest factor for Japan's current four-game winning run.
As for Iran, Shahintab knows that despite their 6-win, 2-loss record, they still have some ways to go before formally clinching a berth in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. Looking ahead to their next two assignments, the experienced coach is looking at some roster changes in the hopes of matching up better against their prospective opponents.
"We will have twp strong games in the our next window against Philippines and Australia," he said. "Maybe we have some opportunity to get some other players and change our roster, but for sure in the window we need to do something to get better."
Iran will next play the Boomers on the road on 30 November before flying to Manila to face the Filipinos on 3 December.