Two of the lesser sides in the tournament will face off when Iran and Puerto Rico open their FIBA World Cup campaigns at the Guangzhou Gymnasium.
Even though their status in the global game is not high, Iran have been excellent relative to their continent. They have firmly established themselves as one of the best teams from Asia. Iran is the only team who will take part in their second consecutive FIBA World Cup. In the last decade or so, they have performed on a consistent level. Since 2007, they have been crowned Asian champions three times.
The last time they won the Asian Cup was back in 2013. In the previous two editions of the Asian Cup Iran have finished third and second respectively. They have failed to qualify for the Olympics in that period. Their last appearance at the Olympic Games was in 2008 when they finished 11th in Beijing. Iran’s qualifying campaign was far from secure. They were not sure of qualification until their last game against Australia. Iran needed to win that game to gain the path to the World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
Following that win, they were drawn alongside Spain, Puerto Rico, and Tunisia in Group C. Spain are a strong team, but Iran have a good chance of finishing second to progress to the knockout stages. Spain were crowned as 1world champions in 2006. Mohammad Jamshidi will be one of Iran’s key players. He averaged 12 points in the qualifiers for them.
“This is a great opportunity for us to play against great players all around the world,” the veteran said recently. “And this will be a very good chance for our team gets valuable experience.”
Iran will come up against Puerto Rico, who also had a similar qualifying campaign. They also needed a win in their last qualifying campaign to guarantee qualification. Puerto Rico beat Uruguay to secure their path to the World Cup. Puerto Rico is a better historic side compared to Iran, but they have struggled recently. Former Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Barea is a veteran in this Puerto Rico side.Embed from Getty Images
Barea knows that qualification from the group is not an easy task. “A World Cup is always very difficult,” Barea told El Nuevo Dia. “All the teams are good; they prepare very well. But in a matter of the group, I think we are well placed. It’s going to be on us, the way we prepare. If we go there well prepared, we will have a good opportunity to qualify for the next round. I do believe that we fell into a good group and that we have a chance.”
Iran vs Puerto Rico Prediction
The game will be close, but Puerto Rico should have enough to grind out the win. Both teams have not met before, and this will be their first competitive game. The point differential will be less than 10 points as Iran will give a proper match to the Puerto Ricans. But the experience will tell as they will get the win.