Iran’s basketball players put in a performance different from their previous ones in their match against Australia at the Asian qualifiers of FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 China, said head coach Mehran Shahintab.
Speaking after his side’s 85-74 win against Aussies on Sunday, the Iranian coach described his players’ efforts and motivation as great and wonderful, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“I thank each and every one of them and congratulate them. They played very cleverly.”
Prior to the match, he added, “I told them that this game was different from the other ones and at the World Cup’s level and that, thus, we had to prepare ourselves very well for it to put in a very good performance. To take part in the World Cup, we are required to practice for six months as the situation in those competitions is very different from the qualifiers.”
He noted that since taking helm as Iran’s head coach, his side had only conceded one heavy defeat and that was against Japan, which was due to the changes made in the Islamic Republic of Iran Basketball Federation.
“East Asian teams are far better than the western ones [in the continent]. That is why we had to work hard to rack up all possible points from our games with teams from the western region and defeat all rivals. Fortunately, our win against the Philippines helped us a lot.”
Iran – dubbed locally as Team Melli – won a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 on Sunday, after defeating powerhouse Australia 85-74 at the Azadi Hall in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
Team Melli came out firing in the first quarter, surprising the slow-burning Australians. Iran led by 10 after the first 10 minutes and played well enough to keep the visitor at bay the rest of the way.
The perimeter pairing of Behnam Yakhchali and Mohammad Jamshidi torched the nets for a combined 46 points in this game. Burly slotman Meisam Mirzaei also made heavy contributions, scoring 14 points on top of 10 rebounds as Iran notched their eighth win in twelve games.
That was good enough to help them finish in third place in Group F, qualifying for the World Cup for the third time in a row.
Mitch Creek and Thomas Wilson led Australians with 20 and 16 points respectively.