EUGENE (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - There was no weeping and gnashing of teeth for Iran when they went down to Jordan in a shock upset at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, a setback that knocked the team out of contention for a spot at the Olympics.
The 88-84 Quarter-Final defeat wasn’t what any of the Iranians, who had won the previous two Asian titles, expected.
But there are no guarantees in international basketball.
Instead of agonizing over the setback, Iran’s players decided to make the most of a disappointing result.
“All I can say, me as a person, I grew up after that,” Iran forward Arsalan Kazemi said to FIBA.com.
“We learned a lot from that game.
“As a team, all we were thinking about was meeting China in the Final and that took our focus away the game we were actually playing that day against Jordan.
“They were on fire, making all their shots. At the end of the game, we realized ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a two-point game’. And then they went up and everything went their way.
“We learned a lot from it and I’m pretty sure at the next tournament, we’re just going to go step by step and only think about the game that we have that day.”
Unlike many of his teammates, Kazemi, who is 22 and playing in his last year of American college basketball at Oregon, had not been in the team that featured at the Beijing Olympics.
Now he has to hope that Iran will qualify for Rio de Janeiro 2016 because he wants to experience a Summer Games.
“Definitely, it’s the biggest stage for international competition,” he said.
Kazemi, it turns out, also has a huge appetite for all things Spain, which is where the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held.
“I love Spain,” he said.
“Real Madrid and Barcelona have been my favorite teams for a while.
“I know they are rivals, but I like both for soccer and basketball.
“I love Spain as a country and I really want to visit.”