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Iran National Basketball Federation President Mashhoun re-elected, thinks men's team is '50-50' to reach Rio
TEHRAN (2015 FIBA Asia Championship) - Iran have captured three of the last four FIBA Asia Championship titles and there is a good chance they will make it four out of five this summer when the team competes at the event in China.
The tournament will be staged in Changsha-Hunan from 23 September-3 October and Iran booked their place by winning last year's FIBA Asia Cup, something they did after downing Chinese Taipei in the Final in Wuhan, China, 89-79.
Of late, the headline-makers have been the Iranians off the court, including Mahmoud Mashhoun, who was re-elected as president of the Iran Basketball Federation over the weekend for a term that runs through 2019.
One of his priorities is to make sure that Iran remain on top of the sport in the region.
That will not include, however, participation in the WABA Championship to be staged in Amman, Jordan, starting at the end of this week (29 May-2 June).
Despite the expected presence in the Iran squad of veterans that have excelled in international competition before, Mashhoun knows that nothing can be taken for granted.
Iran were reminded of that in 2011, when Jordan upset them in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Asia Championship.
Only the side that finishes top of the podium will gain direct qualification for the Rio de Janeiro Games
"Iran has a tough task ahead," Mashhoun said to the Tehran Times.
We have a 50-50 chance of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games. - Mashoun
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen which coach will lead Iran.
Former Montenegro coach Luka Pavicevic was reportedly in line to take the reins of the team, which would make him the fourth straight tactician from the Balkans to lead the side.
Serbian Rajko Toroman, who is now in charge of Jordan, is the man who steered Iran to their first title in 2007. He then coached them at the 2008 Olympics, while fellow countryman Veselin Matic led Iran to continental glory in 2009 and then coached them at the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Matic was in charge when Jordan upset Iran at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.
Memi Becirovic of Slovenia coached Iran to the title at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and also was at the helm of the team that played at last year's World Cup and won the FIBA Asia Cup.
Now it is unclear who will coach the team because when asked about Pavicevic, Mashhoun said: "I would rather appoint an Iranian coach for the national team."