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2023 FIBA World Cup

Haddadi hopes to have left lasting legacy not just to Iran but also to Asia


Twenty-one years ago, Iran’s youth team made history by securing the country’s first-ever podium finish in the FIBA Asia U-18 Championship, led by a lanky center.

Today, that now-burly big man has already become a legend in the Asian region.

As a tribute to his legacy not just in the region but also the continent, members of the Lebanese national team joined hands to share center court with Hamed Haddadi at the conclusion of their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 campaign on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Haddadi had just played his last game with the Iran national team, announcing his retirement after his fourth World Cup appearance.

It was an emotional night for Iranian basketball, bidding farewell to the person who has become the face of their national team over the past two decades.

2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Lebanon-vs-Iran-Hamed-Haddadi-2 Haddadi hopes to have left lasting legacy not just to Iran but also to Asia 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

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“I know I gave everything for my national team, even when injured or out of shape. I feel good, but I also feel upset because I have to leave my country and my young teammates,” said Haddadi upon retiring from the national team.

“I wish the best of luck to the Iran national team. We have talent, but we need to be patient with our younger players. They still need experience. They came here and played. Some players improved, while others are still a work in progress.”

With the towering 7-foot-2 Haddadi manning the paint for Team Melli during the past two decades, Iran became one of Asia’s top squads. They finished with a medal in all but one FIBA Asia Cup tournament from 2007-2017, including three championship runs in 2007, 2009, and 2013.

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Iran also hasn’t missed the podium in the Asian Games since 2006 with him leading the way.

The four-time FIBA Asia Cup MVP was the first Iranian to play in the NBA when he was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. He spent five seasons in the NBA before taking his talents to the Chinese Basketball Association in 2013.

Although officially retiring from the national team, Haddadi plans to continue his basketball career as long as his body allows.

“I want to keep playing. I love basketball. I will continue playing with clubs. But for the national team, I think it’s time for the younger generation to take over.”

Haddadi’s absence in Asian basketball will surely take some time to get used to.

2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Lebanon-vs-Iran-Wael-Arakji-vs-Hamed-Haddadi-2 Haddadi hopes to have left lasting legacy not just to Iran but also to Asia 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

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Written By

A Bacolodnon who loves basketball, chess, and esports.


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