Iran’s players have turned on teammate Hamed Haddadi after some crucial mistakes by the Memphis Grizzlies centre in their shock quarter-final 88-84 loss to Jordan at the Asian Championships.
A day after defeat denied Iran a berth at the London Olympics, the two-time reigning regional champs spoke to the media after taking out their frustrations with a 98-66 consolation-round drubbing of Taiwan.
“Hamed is good but sometimes not all the big NBA players can play good, he missed some shots and had some bad passes,” point guard Mahdi Kamrany said.
“We are very disappointed, but that happens, that is basketball. The loss was very bad for my country, we just couldn’t make it happen.”
Before Iran came crashing back to earth, the giant Haddadi had promised another regional crown for Iran and proclaimed himself the best centre in Asia after Chinese superstar Yao Ming retired in July.
“We will be champions, our biggest opponent is China, but we can beat them,” Chinese media widely quoted Haddadi as saying.
His comments did not help Iran’s cause, said forward Samad Bahrami.
“The media, the reporters, they helped Iran lose, they keep saying ‘you are the best, you are the best’, we had too much pressure,” Bahrami told AFP.
“The best player in Asia is the player that wins the championship, you cannot say that one player is the best in Asia when his team finishes sixth or seventh.
“Hamed is a very good player, but we should find the best player in the final.”
Although Haddadi led Iran in scoring with 27 points and 14 rebounds against Jordan, he committed a costly foul and missed several shots in the crucial waning minutes.