Despite Hamed Haddadi, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and Arsalan Kazemi not getting the chance to play, the Iran national basketball team remain hopeful that they will qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China with a home win against Japan.
Team Melli will meet Japan and Australia at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers on Thursday and Sunday in Tehran’s Azadi Hall, respectively.
Iran are in sole position of 2nd place in Group F with seven wins against three losses. A win against Japan will guarantee them a place at next year’s showpiece event in China.
Australia, the group’s top team, have already booked their tickets to China, and Iran are aiming to follow suit.
If Iran win at least one game, they’ll finish with eight wins and four losses, which will be good enough to get them through to the World Cup.
If Iran lose both of their sixth window games, however, it could potentially place them in a three-way tie with Japan and the Philippines if all of them finish at seven wins and five losses. In that unlikely scenario, there’s still a slight chance Iran will slip out of the World Cup race.
The last time the teams met, Japan defeated Iran 70-56 in Tokyo, but this time, the task is far more daunting.