TEHRAN (Superleague) - Iranian basketball is still abuzz about the 11th round of games in the top flight because of one showdown in particular.
Fans were treated to a thriller as Foolad Mahan avenged a narrow defeat to Petrochemi from earlier this season.
The occasion had added significance because organizers also paid tribute to the late Idin Nikkhah Bahrami, the former national team star who died in a car accident five years ago.
Nikkhah Bahrami, whose brother Samad is a leader in the national side, was loved by everyone in Iranian basketball.
He was adored not only for his outstanding play but his warm, ebullient personality.
Petrochemi had prevailed in the first meeting, 74-70, at home early last November.
The second meeting proved equally exciting.
It started with Petrochemi taking a 19-13 advantage by the end of the first quarter and they went to half-time in front, 36-31.
Mahan owned the last five minutes of the third quarter, going on an 11-5 run for a 52-51 advantage.
At the 6:30 mark in the last quarter, Mahan extended their lead to 10 when Chris Williams drilled a three-pointer, but Iran national team star Hamed Afagh brought Petrochemi back.
He poured in eight points as Petrochemi cut the deficit to just two with 4:33 remaining.
Then Sani Becirovic and Rouzbeh Arghavan helped Petrochemi go on top at 74-70 with 1:30 on clock.
Another national team man, Javad Davari, hit a three-ball from the corner to reduce the Mahan deficit to 74-73 but with 34.2 seconds left, a pair of lay-ups gave Petrochemi 78-73 advantage.
Mahan coach Mohsen Sadeghzadeh called a timeout, and it worked to good effect because his team followed with six straight points from Williams and Saman Veisi.
However, Petrochemi made two free-throws out of four attempts and still led 80-79 with 13.2 seconds to go.
A bad inbounds pass gave another chance to Mahan and Oshin Sahakian to set up Asghar Kardoust under the basket, and he made an acrobatic reverse lay-in for an 81-80 Mahan advantage just 5.3 seconds from the end.
A defensive stop by Javad and a made free-throw by Oshin left Mahan with an 82-80 triumph.
Asghar led Mahan with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Williams had 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Saman Veisi, while recovering from an injury, scored 12 crucial points.
Sani Becirovic had 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for Petrochemi.
Hamed Afagh added 16 points.