Haddadi breaks silence on Iran basketball absence

2019-04-22 02:48:19 GMT2019-04-22 10:48:19(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TEHRAN, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Iran center Hamed Haddadi has spoken for the first time about his absence from his country's national basketball team, the Tehran Times reported on Sunday.

Team Melli missed the services of the 2.18m center in their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian qualifiers against Japan and Australia, after he clashed with the country's basketball officials.

His teammate Samad Nikkhah Bahrami also withdrew from the games in support of Haddadi.

"First, I have to criticize [Iran coach] Mr. Shahintab after he accused me of being disloyal to my country. I would play for Iran's national basketball team even with a broken foot. Basketball is my love and I would die for my national team," Haddadi was quoted as saying.

Haddadi was called up to Team Melli but refused to play.

"Yes, I was called up to the team but could not play since the team's officials had not resolved the problems," the former Memphis Grizzlies star added.

"It's a great honor to play for my country. We were at the training camp for six months and we didn't ask for anything but they didn't respect the players. They told us playing for Team Melli is our responsibility and we also said that's right. But in Japan, the team's members were taken to the game venue by public transport," Haddadi stated.