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IRI - Kazemi ‘sacrifices’ NT spot for academic pursuit

TEHRAN, Iran (26th FIBA Asia Championship): Arsalan Kazemi will the best player, cutting across all the 16 teams in fray, not to play in this September’s 26th FIBA Asia Championship. This is the unfortunate reality.

The 19-year-old who averaged 12 points and 7.4 rebounds for Iran in the 2010 FIBA World Championship – second in contribution only to Iran’s only NBA player Hamed Haddadi – will ‘sacrifice’ the opportunity to play for the National Team for his “very important classes” as he pursues his studies in the Rice University (US).

“The 26th FIBA Asia Championship interferes with my classes. And I can’t miss my classes for long,” Kazemi recently told Iranian news agency ISNA.

“I did try persuading the college officials to let me play, but unfortunately they didn’t give permission. Of course, I am very disappointed,” he said.

“We (Iran NT) have some very important games to defend our back to back gold medals and also compete for a slot in the 2012 London Olympics, but unfortunately I can’t be a part of the team in this cause,” Kazemi said.

“But rest assured, playing for the Iranian National Team is more precious for me than anything else. But this time the circumstances are different,” said the Sports Management sophomore.

Excerpts from his thoughts

Time for family

It doesn’t make sense for me disrupt (the NT’s training) especially when I know for sure that I won’t be a part of the team.

Also it’s been more than four years that I spent time with my family. These two weeks are the best time to make up.

Kazemi’s thoughts on team’s strengths

In Hamed Haddadi, we have a player who is way above all others in Asia. For sure he is the strongest points in the team. Hamed Haddadi is simply uncontrollable by all the Asian teams.

Having said that, I must add that in terms of positions, the Iran National Team has the one of the best players in Asia for each single position.

Praise for Sahakian

Take for example Oshin Sahakian. He is among the top power forwards in Asia. All teams dream of having a player like Oshin Sahakian in their team.

Oshin is a player that serves the team with passion and thinks of playmaking and opening the court more than anything else.

I have seen few players who take the court like Oshin does.

Sahakian never thinks of scoring himself. He always plays in the team’s interest in the in teams service.

On Iran’s rivals at Wuhan

All teams will come prepared to beat Iran. We are the team to beat, there is no doubt on that.

Our rivals have big motivation while playing against us. As defending champions anything less than gold is an underachievement for us.

We have to combine well against two very different styles – the more physical style of the West Asian teams and the speed-based style of East Asians.

On Matic’s training

In my opinion it's the coach's right to train his team with the main players for at least 2 months.

Since Veselin Matic has become Iran's National Team head coach, he has never had the chance to train with the whole team. And this will have an effect on the team’s performance.

Matic is a big coach that has developed Iran's basketball pretty well, and he can prove this development in Wuhan.

On Iran’s recent European tour

I followed Iran's results until the Hungary games and after that I had a quick overlook of the results in the four-nation  tournament.

4 losses and just 1 win was the results in the preparations, but this doesn't mean we had weak results in our preparations.

When you have only 7 players available for the team and you get one of them injured for the last game and the head coach has just one player to substitute in, you can't do anything.

I hope the players will come back with a nice form and get the best result possible in the future tournaments.


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