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Iran name Mehran Hatami as new coach
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Iran name Mehran Hatami as new coach

TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Mehran Hatami has been named the successor to Dirk Bauermann as head coach of the Iran national men's basketball team. The 52-year-old Hatami played for Team Melli in the Asian Games and FIBA Asia Championships during the 1990s.

He takes over an Iran squad reeling from the surprising departure of Bauermann, who agreed to helm S.Oliver Würzburg in his home country of Germany. Bauermann's contract had not run its course yet as he was expected to stay on till 2019.

The race for the head coach post came down to Hatami and Petrochimi Bandar Imam coach Mehran Shahintab. In the end, Hatami, who coached Iran's U18 team back in 2012, got the nod. 

Hatami's first task is to steer Iran to the top of the West Asia Basketball Association (WABA) Championship 2017, which will be held in Amman, Jordan.

"I will be mainly selecting young players for the WABA Championship in Jordan," he told ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency).

Without a doubt, Hatami would love nothing more than to continue Team Melli's dominance in their sub-zone, but he knows that it will be far from easy.

"The aim is to retain the championship. But I can't promise that because the players are young and internationally inexperienced." - Hatami

With a clear focus on developing talent to further secure Iran's place at the top level of Asia, Hatami has chosen to prioritize youth in picking the players for his team.

"The reason why I want to use younger players for WABA is to help them earn the experience which will help the national team in the future," he explained. "Giving these players competitive action will help the national team on the long-term."

Iran are perennial championship contenders in Asia and they are the defending champions at the FIBA Asia Challenge. They have also won three of the last five FIBA Asia Championship crowns (2007, 2009, 2013).

They are expected to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 and be among the Level I teams in the Qualifiers for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.