Iran captured its third FIBA Asia Championship after defeating the Philippines 85-71 on Sunday.
Playing without injured star center Marcus Douthit, the Philippines team was defenseless in the paint. Iranian center Hamed Haddadi, an NBA roleplayer in addition to his national team contributions, capped off a brilliant tournament performance for his country with 29 points and 16 rebounds in his team's decisive final victory.
Iran dominated the boards as a result of Douthit’s absence, racking up 51 to their opponents’ 34 rebounds.
His absence also forced the Philippines to the perimeter offensively, as he was the primary focus of its offense heading into the final. The team jacked up 34 three-pointers as a result—nearly half of their field goal attempts for the game. Unfortunately, they missed the mark more often than not, shooting just 29.4 percent from that distance.
William led the Philippines in scoring with 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Jim Alapag was his only teammate finishing in double digits, recording 13 points in the loss.
The resulting Philippines’ silver-medal finish is the best for the nation since 1985 when it captured the Asian tournament championship in 1985.
Iranian forward Amir Sedighi tweeted a picture of his countrymen celebrating the big win:
With the victory, Iran secures its place in Spain in 2014 for the FIBA World Cup. Meanwhile, Haddadi earned MVP honors for the third time in his career as a result of his impressive showing, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando:
Big man Hamed Haddadi of Iranian National Team has been named as the #FIBAAsia tournament MVP— Emiliano Carchia (@SportandoBasket) August 11, 2013
Credit Haddadi’s award to his tournament-leading 18.8 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting. He also matched Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Almarwani’s 10 rebounds per game, a tie for the most in the tournament.
What’s even more impressive is that he accomplished so much in such little time. As Iran cruised to some easy early tournament victories, Haddadi found himself resting on the bench. He played just 22 minutes per game—58th among all players in the tournament—but still managed to put up those colossal numbers.
The 28-year-old has yet to break through in the NBA, but has appeared in 151 games over the past five years. During that span he averaged 2.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in seven minutes per contest with no starts.
Haddadi is currently a free agent, but there may be some teams looking to acquire the 7’2” big man in the wake of his dominant showing.
Prior to the tournament, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone reported an NBA team was already considering bringing him in:
The Knicks also have shown interest in 7-foot-2 center Hamad Haddadi. Nothing imminent there either.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) August 1, 2013
If the New York Knicks watched the FIBA Asia Championship tournament, especially the final round, that “nothing imminent” status may quickly change this week.
It will take a lot for Haddadi to build momentum and translate his FIBA achievements into NBA success, but there’s no denying that he does have the talent to be a serviceable option for a team in need of frontcourt depth.
He may never be an NBA All-Star but Haddadi is a national hero as a member of Iran’s national team.