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''We are in a tough group but we can make it'' - Iran's Mohammad Jamshidi
TEHRAN (Iran) - Iran are the only Asian team to have seen action in the last 2 FIBA Basketball World Cups, and that has cemented their place as the most consistently outstanding Asian squad in the past decade.
"This is a great opportunity for us to play against great players all around the world."
That was tested in the recent Asian Qualifiers, when Iran were pushed to their limits, needing to win their final game against Australia to formally book their tickets to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
That they did, and last weekend the Iranians found out where they'll play and against whom. Team Melli were drawn into Group C alongside African team Tunisia, Puerto Rico of the FIBA Americas and World Cup 2006 champions Spain.
To say that it'll be a challenging group is a huge understatement, but veteran wingman Mohammad Jamshidi remains unfazed. He is confident that if his team will train well and will be at full strength, they can advance.
"We just need to work hard to get ready for these games," he said. "We are in a tough group, but we can make it."
The 27-year-old Jamshidi was among Iran's best players in the Asian Qualifiers, averaging 12.0 points, 3.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 three-pointers per game, and he should play a vital role for the team in the World Cup.
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For them to make a lot of noise in China, however Iran must ensure that all their most potent weapons are brought to fore. That means seasoned campaigners Arsalan Kazemi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami must make themselves available, and the same goes for former NBA big man Hamed Haddadi.
Regardless of who ends up making Iran's final World Cup roster, though, Jamshidi is certainly excited to once again match wits with some of the best hoopsters from around the globe.
"This is a great opportunity for us to play against great players all around the world," he explained. "And this will be a very good chance for our team get valuable experience."
Iran will see action first in the city Guangzhou, opening their tournament against Puerto Rico on 31 August. That will be followed by a match against Tunisia on 2 September, and they will finish their group contests against Spain on 4 September.