23 September, 2015
03 October
Dirk Bauermann (GER)
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Bauermann believes Iran have a fighting chance to reach Rio Olympics

TEHRAN (2016 Rio Olympics) - The disappointment is still there for Iran after their third-place finish at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

Runners-up the Philippines, Iran and Japan will instead have to try and reach Rio via one of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).

When a country like Iran has won three of the previous four titles at the event and there is plenty of experience in the squad, only one result was acceptable for the players and the coaching staff.

They not only wanted to reach the top of the podium, but expected to do so.

Coach Dirk Bauermann, whose contract has expired as the coach of the national team, says the Iranians still have a fighting chance to make it to the Rio de Janeiro.

We finished third at the FIBA Asian Championship but I’m sure this team has the potential to book a place in next year's Olympics in Rio. - Bauermann

He would like nothing more than to prepare them for an OQT.

There are to be three such six-team tournaments next summer with each winner progressing to Rio and from his vantage point, Iran must not lose heart.

Several players in the Iran squad have won titles and even played at an Olympics before.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, a member of the All-Star Five in Changsha-Hunan, China, is one that has a wealth of experience.

He signed off from this summer's event in style, drilling eight of 17 shots from behind the arc and leading all scorers with 35 points in Iran's 68-63 victory over Japan in the Third-Place Game.

Iran's fortunes might have been very different had the injury bug not bitten them. But it did and robbed the team of a couple of players at very important times.

"We lost Hamed Afagh in the game against Korea due to injury and just after that, we suffered another blow losing Javad Davari against China for the same reason," Bauermann said.

"Losing two key players was a major blow for us but we tried our best and I'm completely satisfied with my team’s performance."

Bauermann said that he and his players also had to accept that there were times when they needed to perform better.

All things considered, the German coach stressed that the players had every reason to be proud of the effort they showed.

And he also says that should Iran ask him, he would gladly sign a new contract and coach the team again.

"My contract with Iran has expired but I'd love to continue my job in Iran because I have very good players that I really enjoy working with," he said.

"It would be an honor for me to continue as the head coach of Iran national basketball team."