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Number Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty - 04 September 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty - 04 September 2023 - Page 6

Legendary Haddadi bids farewell to international duty

Iconic Hamed Haddadi, probably the greatest Iranian basketball player in the history of the game, brought the curtain down on an illustrious career with the national team.
The 7-foot-2 center called time on two decades with the Iranian jersey after an 81-73 defeat against Lebanon in a classification contest at the FIBA World Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“No-one knew about the decision except some of my teammates. I wasn’t sure about until the last moment. To say goodbye to the national team after 20 years was really a tough decision to make,” said Haddadi, who had 14 points and eight rebounds in his last outing for Iran.
“It is time for the young generation. They need to get more time and experience with more game-time,” said the Sichuan Blue Whales player.
“I know I gave everything for my country, even when I was injured or out of shape. I feel good, but I also feel upset because I have to leave my team and my young teammates,” added the former Memphis Grizzlies center.
Haddadi finished his final World Cup with an average 10.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game – moving into the top-five for blocks in World Cup history with 31 rejections.
“I wish the best of luck for the Iran national team. We have talent, but we need to be patient with our younger players. They came here and played. Some players improved, while others are still a work in progress.”
The 38-year-old was surrounded by his teammates at the final buzzer, as well as the entire Lebanese team, with Wael Arakji – an MVP in last year’s Asia Cup – paying tribute to the Iranian by wearing his No. 15 jersey.
Haddadi was part of the Iranian team that grabbed the silver medal at the 2022 FIBA Asia U18 Championship – a first-ever podium finish in the competition for the country.
He won the Asian under-20 title two years later and the rest is history for the Iranian, who featured in every one of the Asian side’s World Cup participations as well as two Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and Tokyo 2020.
A memorable campaign in 2007 saw Haddadi lead Iran to a maiden crown at the FIBA Asia Cup, before he repeated the success with the country in 2009 and 2013 – coupled with a 2017 silver and a bronze in 2015 – winning the MVP award on four occasions.
He also claimed back-to-back silver medals at the Asian Games in 2014 and 2018, with a 2006 bronze in Doha also under his belt.


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