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Seasoned veterans Haddadi and Bahrami picked to lead Iran's World Cup roster
TEHRAN (Iran) - With Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami in tow, Iran are bringing the heavyweights to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
Haddadi and Bahrami will be the most seasoned players for a team that makes their third straight appearance on the biggest stage of international basketball.
|Iran 12-man roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019|
|Aaron Geramipoor||Hamed Haddadi||Mohammad Hassanzadeh||Hamed Hosseinzadeh|
|Mohamad Jamshidi||Samad Nikkhah Bahrami||Sajjad Mashayekhi||Rasoul Mozafarivanani|
|Meisam Mirzaei||Michael Rostampour||Behnam Yakhchali||Arman Zangeneh|
Iran first qualified for the showpiece event in 2010 with both Haddadi and Bahrami already big stars for the national squad. They returned to the World Cup in Spain in 2014, and now they find themselves in an all too familiar position as they try to buoy a team bannered by some of Iran's brightest up-and-coming talents.
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One of those talents is Behnam Yakhchali, who already joined the team in Spain five years ago as a wide-eyed 19-year-old. Now five years older and wiser, Yakhchali will be one of coach Mehran Shahintab's best weapons in China. The 6ft 3in (1.91m) guard was Iran's best scorer in the Asian Qualifiers, putting up 14.8 points and 1.6 three-pointers per game.
Aside from Yakhchali, another player to watch is Bahrami's former understudy, Mohammad Jamshidi, who has blossomed into an explosive perimeter threat. The 28-year-old wingman averaged 28.0 points per game in Iran's last three Qualifiers games, and he will be one of the team's designated gunners when they open Group C play in Guangzhou next week.
Helping out Haddadi in the paint will be 6ft 11in (2.10m) Michael Rostampour. The former NCAA standout has the size and the heft to be the perfect sidekick to the hulking Haddadi, who at 34 years old, may be seeing action in his last World Cup. Rostampour, who has played for BC Prievidza and San Salvador BC in the past, will provide much needed muscle for Iran. His combo with Meisam Mirzaei and Mohammad Hassanzadeh in the paint can be potentially problematic for Team Melli's Group C foes.
Iran open their account on August 31 against Puerto Rico. That will be followed by games against Tunisia on September 2 and Spain on September 4.