MANILA, Philippines - In what could be an added boost to the FIBA Asia-bound Iranian national team, forward Arsalan Kazemi was chosen by the Washington Wizards as the 54th pick in the 2013 NBA draft exercise Thursday (Friday in Manila).
After being tabbed by the Wizards, the 6-foot-8 Kazemi, the first Iranian player drafted in the NBA, was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers team partly owned by Indonesian business mogul Erick Thohir, who is a member of the FIBA Asia executive committee.
FIBA Asia officials welcomed as great news to Asian basketball Kazemi’s inclusion in the 2013 NBA draft.
“It’s a matter of pride for all of us in FIBA Asia that a player who grew amidst us in our events has made it to the NBA,” said FIBA Asia president Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al-Thani in a fibaasia.net report.
Kazemi is flying home soon to join the Iranian team in the Jones Cup in Taipei then the 27th FIBA Asia Championship slated Aug. 1-11 in Manila.
The Iranians, two-time Asian champs, are among the favorites to contend for the three World Cup slots to be staked in the Manila joust.
Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Iranian teammate Hamed Haddadi plays with the Phoenix Suns, but the 7-foot-1 player joined the NBA as a free agent for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008.
Arsalan, Iran’s main man in the under-19 world championship in 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand, gained the attention of NBA scouts for his double-double numbers with the Oregon Ducks in the most recent US collegiate season.
He piled up 15 rebounds, 10 points and 2.3 assists a game to power Oregon to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2013 NCAA championship.
He spent his first three years in US college ball with Rice U, averaging 10.3 points in 2009-10, 15.2 in 2010-11 and 12.1 in 2011-12.
Meanwhile, the Japanese national team, another team bound for the FIBA Asia Championship, ripped the Meralco Bolts, 86-67, Friday in the first of their three-game fund-raising series in Tokyo.
Atsuya Ota piled up 19 points and 11 rebounds with Keijuro Matsui adding 16 points for the Japanese.