30 August, 2014
14 September
Arsalan KAZEMI  (Iran)
to read

Kazemi waiting for a call back from the NBA

GRANADA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Arsalan Kazemi is playing for Iran at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with some important missions in the back of his mind.

He is competing to help the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship winners match or improve on the 1-5 record they complied in Turkey four years ago and make the most of the Spain 2014 learning process.

Kazemi also knows that he has some unfinished business with the NBA and this edition of FIBA's flagship event is an opportunity to showcase his learning process.

Although Hamed Haddadi played in the NBA, the 22-year-old Kazemi made history in June 2013 when he became the first Iranian drafted by an NBA team. He was selected with the 54th pick by the Washington Wizards, before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Eventually, both parties agreed that the 2.01m forward would improve his game overseas. He decided to return to his home country and make the most of the local league.

As he represents the Asians powerhouse in Spain, he knows he is being watched, not only by the crowd that often fills the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Granada, but also by a worldwide audience.

"Here (in Granada), you play against, not good players, but also great players, and a lot of them are millionaires like some in the game that we watched last night between Spain and Brazil," he said.

Kazemi also knows that, the better he performs in Spain or in the Iranian League - where he plays for Petrochimi Bandar Iman Harbour - the better chances he has of fulfilling his NBA ambition.

(The NBA dream) That's still there - Kazemi

"I'm still in contact with Sam Hinkie (Philadelphia 76ers General Manager) and I believe when the time is right, I will get the call back and will be part of the 76ers," he said.

Until that moment comes, Kazemi will be improving his game back home in a league that he describes as tough.

"No one expects the Iranian league to be that tough but when they go there, they kind of get surprised because it is a little bit more physical and stronger than other professional leagues. It has been a good experience for me.

"I look forward to the upcoming season. We won the championship last season. It was an exciting season and a great chance to be with my family, after six years.

"It was good to get close to my family, see them more often.

"I still live in America, I mean, I split my time in Iran and the US. Obviously when I was in the US for school, I used to go back home for a month or two."

Iran have lost three times in Granada. Nevertheless, with two games left to play, a win against Egypt on Wednesday would be the Iranians' second in the tournament's recent history having beaten Tunisia, another North African team, in Istanbul four years ago.

"Spain 2014 is a great experience. You learn a lot from other teams. It feels good to be here and be part of the 24 teams involved," said Kazemi.

"We are playing in a great stadium with great fans."

When asked to pick his team that will win the Naismith Trophy and be crowned world champions, Kazemi has no doubts, even though he feels divided.

I expect Spain to win it all this year - Kazemi

"I am a Spain fan. My heart is US fan, but Spain is a great team with great players," he said.

Spain, Serbia and Brazil have made Iran's campaign a lot more difficult earlier in the tournament, but for Kazemi, there was a reason for that to happen.

"We were matched up with some of the better teams in this tournament, and that was not very luck for us," he offered.

"What is unlucky in this is that one of the teams that came to our group (Brazil) came with a wild card and came with their great players.

"If we would have had some other teams in our group we could have done better and go to the second round, but we are trying to do our best.

"We had a little bit of chance against Serbia, we did pretty good.

"Tomorrow we play against Egypt and we'll try our chances to win the game, and try to get one win out of this tournament.

"Our last game is against France, and we'll need to beat them by 12 or 13 points, which is hard to do."

Time will tell if Kazemi gets the call he has been waiting for.