A Guide to the Iran Men’s Basketball Team
The Iranian men’s basketball team, also known as Team Melli (The National Team), is one of Asia’s most successful Federations. Since the turn of the century, they’ve won three FIBA Asia Cups and have claimed a silver and a bronze medal at the tournament. Plus, the side has also qualified for every edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup since 2010.
Discover more about the Iranian men’s basketball team with this guide from the experts at Courtside 1891. Read on to discover more about the side’s history, former legends and current talent.
How Did Iran Do At The FIBA World Cup 2023?
Here are the key stats from Iran's FIBA Basketball World Cup campaign:
- → Final Standing: 31st
- → Results: Played 5 Won 0 Lost 5
- → Top Points Scorer: Mohammad Amini 66 PTS (13.2 PPG)
- → Top Assist Provider: Behnam Yakhchali 17 AST (3.4 APG)
- → Most Efficient Player: Hamed Haddadi 17.5 EPG
Iran was only one of three teams at the World Cup 2023 to go home without a win. Finishing bottom in Group G after resounding defeats to Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and Spain. Further disappointment was to follow in the classification games against France and Lebanon. After the final play of their campaign, one man took centre stage, Hamed Haddadi, bidding a final farewell after 4 consecutive World Cup runs with Iran. At the other end of his career is Mohammad Amini. The 18-year-old who plays for AS Monaco, played 30 minutes a game and was Iran's top tournament scorer.
Relive the emotional Hamed Haddadi post-game scenes with this Courtside 1891 Instagram Reel.
Team Presentation Video
Keen to learn more about the Iran basketball team and the legendary Haddadi? Take a look at this handy Team Discovery Video, which covers their greatest achievements prior to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Iran Basketball World Cup Qualification
Although it was nervy at times, Iran did qualify for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
The Iran basketball team started the qualification process in Group D of the FIBA Asian Qualifiers, alongside Kazakhstan, Bahrain and Syria. Here, they advanced with a 4-2 record after suffering two defeats to table-topping Kazakhstan.
In the second and final qualification round, Team Melli was drawn in Group F, alongside Australia, China, Japan, Kazakhstan and Bahrain. Here, the side struggled to a 2-4 record and suffered a couple of heavy defeats against Australia (98-68) and Japan (96-61). However, the side did beat Japan in their first matchup and they were also awarded a 20-0 victory in a game Australia forfeited.
Ultimately, this meant that Iran’s 6-6 record was good enough for fourth in the group and the final qualification place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Best World Cup Qualification Plays
Coach Armaghani (who has since been replaced by Hakan Demir) relied on a settled rotation for Iran’s qualification campaign, with Mohammad Jamshidi, Arsalan Kazemi and Sajjad Mashayekhi all appearing in at least 10 games. These stalwarts were joined by Mohammad Hassanzadeh, who featured in nine games, and Behnam Yakhchali, who featured in eight.
While Mohammad Jamshidi and Behnam Yakhchali both scored more than 150 points, Iran’s most impactful player throughout the qualifiers was Arsalan Kazemi, who ended the campaign with a cumulative +/- of +42 and an efficiency of 181. He led the team in both categories and made a huge contribution towards getting his team over the line and into another FIBA World Cup.
Want to learn more about Iran’s style of basketball? Check out their Top 10 plays from the qualifiers by watching the video below.
Current Star Players
Iran announced an expanded 27-man training camp roster for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. This experienced squad is headlined by all-time great center Hamed Haddadi and veteran power forward Arsalan Kazemi. They’re joined in the squad by several linchpins of the past several years, including Behnam Yakhchali, who has appeared at the FIBA Basketball World Cup with Iran twice already.
Last year, Yakhchali cemented his status as one of the best shooters on the continent at the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, where he averaged a team-best 21.0 points per game. He carried this record over to World Cup qualifying, where his 19.1 points per game was the third highest in the Asia Qualifiers.
Legends of the Team
Legends of Iranian basketball don’t get any bigger than center Hamed Haddadi, who was the first Iranian to play in the NBA. Although he went undrafted in 2004, Haddadi signed with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. He then went on to appear in more than 150 NBA games for the Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns.
Haddadi was also a force on the international stage, where he won medals at the FIBA Asia Cup, the Asian Games and the FIBA Asia Challenge. He delivered his greatest achievements during the FIBA Asia Cup, where he has won five medals, including three golds. Haddadi is one of only three players to win the FIBA Asia Cup MVP award since 2007 and that is because he’s taken home four of the seven MVP trophies during that run!
Now aged 38, Haddadi made his final World Cup bow at FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. He was named in the Iranian squad in 2010, 2014 and 2019 and has been named in Iran’s extended roster for 2023.
Historical World Cup Performance
Iran made their first appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010. Since then, they’ve qualified for every edition of the tournament.
However, across three appearances at the World Cup so far, Team Melli have never made it out of their group and their best finish came in 2010, when they finished 19th, based on tournament classification rules in place at the time.
Previous Successes and Tournament Wins
To date, Iran has only made three appearances at the Olympics. These came in 1948, 2008 and 2020.
During this time, Basketball Iran has failed to make an impact on the tournament, and they last won a match at the Olympics back in 1948 - that’s almost 80 years ago!
However, Iran has fared better at the continental level. Since the turn of the century, they’ve grabbed three golds, a silver and a bronze medal at the FIBA Asia Cup. On top of this, they’ve also won two bronze medals and two silvers at the Asian Games, as well as three golds at the FIBA Asia Challenge.
How to Watch Iran Men's Basketball
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As FIBA’s premium streaming partner for the World Cup, Courtside 1891 provided access to every 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup game! Watch the competition's biggest games and best moments on-demand on our FIBA Basketball World Cup page.
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