Although he already has scouting reports on Iran, Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao admits that former NBA big man Hamed Haddadi is still the top concern heading to their game on Thursday in the 2018 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers in Tehran.
At 33, Haddadi remains a force to reckoned with, especially when he gets the ball inside. The 7-foot-2 center came averaged 21 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals during the 2018 Asian games.
"Individually our biggest problem will be the size of Haddadi," Guiao said.
The good news is, Barangay Ginebra slot man Greg Slaughter was declared a local player by FIBA on Saturday.
The only consideration now is the progress of Slaughter's left ankle injury, which he sustained last Wednesday in the Kings' win over the NorthPort Batang Pier in the PBA Governors' Cup. Guiao is worried about Slaughter's ability to play long minutes against Haddadi.
"The only worry I have is if Greg could be in good shape, be able to run up and down and then do the physical demand of guarding Haddadi," the coach said.
Nonetheless, Ryan Gregorio, one of Guiao's assistant coaches, said they've already compiled scouting materials on the former three-time Asian basketball champion.
"We're basically ready if they [Iranians] all of sudden tinker with their lineup," said Gregorio, who also serves as special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio. "What we've been trying to do is check the Asian Games and the Olympic qualifying games and there will be key players I think who will be part of team."
Gregorio, a three-time PBA champion coach, reckons that Haddadi, forwards Arsalan Kazemi and Nikkhah Bahrami, Mohamad Jamshidi as well as Aren Davoudichegani will lead Iran next week.
"We're just using out gut feel right now on who they will put on their lineup," Gregorio said. "Their coach for the last Asian Games is also their coach in the Olympic qualifier, so more or less, their offensive sets are similar. Those are the things we are taking into consideration."
After Iran, Gilas Pilipinas flies back to Manila to host Qatar on Sept. 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a closed-door match.