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Yakhchali and Iran are focused and ready for FIBA Asia Cup

TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Behnam Yakhchali is expected to be one of the big stars for Iran in the coming FIBA Asia Cup 2017, and that does not seem to faze the young man one bit.

At just 21 years of age, the 1.95m wingman is already projected to be Iran's ace for the foreseeable future, and though that may place undue pressure on others, Yakhchali seems to have embraced it. He debuted for Team Melli's senior team as a wide-eyed 19-year-old back in 2014, already impressing friend and foe with his instincts and, more importantly, his explosive outside shooting.

Benham Yakhchali of Iran. FIBA photo
He was part of the team in their 2015 campaign in Changsha-Hunan, where the Iranians were dethroned and placed 3rd overall. In that tournament, Yakhchali still played second fiddle to household name Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, but with the veteran forward not in the pool this year, the onus is on Yakhchali to carry a bigger responsibility and a heavier scoring load.

By all intents and purposes, though, the Shahrekord native looks ready. He put up 16.6 points per game at the WABA Championship 2017 earlier this year, scoring in double-figures in every game as Iran placed 2nd behind bitter rivals Lebanon. Can he continue to do that in Beirut for the FIBA Asia Cup in August?

Only time will tell, but he sure sounded confident in a recent interview with FIBA.com, where he talked about their level of preparation and a couple of their other key players.

How are Iran's preparations so far for the FIBA Asia Cup?
We started our practice immediately after our season, then we played preparation games versus China. We are looking for some other games to be ready for the FIBA Asia Cup.

What can you say about having Jordan, Syria and India in your group?
All those teams are really tough, but we are confident we will go there so focused and ready. Of course, we will give our best against every opponent.

What can you say about having French-Iranian Navid Niktash in the Iran national pool?
It was his first time playing in Iran. He is a really good player, and he can help us during our games in the FIBA Asia Cup.

Which players do you think will step up for Iran, especially with veterans like Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and Mahdi Kamrani no longer around?
Bahrami and Kamrani were really good players, but we have other good players with us this time also. Right now, everyone is trying to do his best for the national team.

Do you think your legendary center, Hamed Haddadi, will still be dominant?
I think Haddadi is so good and will still be dominant in the next 4-5 years. He is the perfect leader for our team as we play for the gold medal in FIBA Asia.

Source: http://www.fiba.com/asiacup/2017/news/yakhchali-and-iran-are-focused-and-ready-for-fiba-asia-cup

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