Iran are aiming to extend their win streak in the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup but the Philippines stands in their way.
Thus far, Iran have been unbeaten at home while the new-look Philippine national team has is coming off a stellar showing in the
Asian Games with an upset on their minds.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao has yet to name his final 12-man
roster for this game, but he made it clear that he is planning to have
Christian Standhardinger up front while utilizing speed as a weapon.
If so, the Filipino-German big man should have an interesting time
matching up against Iranian behemoth Hamed Haddadi. At just 6ft 8in,
(2.02m), Standhardinger gives up a lot of size against Haddadi, but
what Standhardinger lacks in inches he more than makes up for in
cunning. If Standhardinger is able to sink some midrange shots while
also effectively run the break, he can give even the seasoned Haddadi
Samad Nikkhah Bahrami was one of the surprise packages for Iran in the
first round, leading the Asian Qualifiers in assists with nearly 7 a
game, and his playmaking will be a critical factor for Iran’s chances
to keep their winning ways. An old foe – Marcio Lassiter – awaits
Bahrami, and since the last time they faced each other was way back in
2011, this should be a very interesting reunion. It’s uncanny how
Bahrami continues to find new ways to still be quite effective for
Iran, while Lassiter has risen to be the Philippines’ top shooting
guard. It should be a very entertaining and competitive matchup.
Iran have not yet lost at home, and as long as their form holds true,
they should remain unbeaten even in the face of a highly motivated and
rejigged Philippines. Even if 7-footer Greg Slaughter is fit and ready
to bang bodies with Haddadi, the latter still holds a clear advantage
and should have little trouble making a big impact in this contest.
Bahrami should also be in fine form, and with rising stars Behnam
Yakhchali, Sajjad Mashayekhi and Meisam Mirzaei also chipping in, Iran
are heavily favored to notch their sixth straight triumph.