04 May 2015

Kamrani Out, Koochoie In

Benny Koochoie
The Meralco Bolts has already found a gem of an import in NBA D-League All-Star Most Valuable Player (MVP) Andre Emmet. The 6-foot-4 forward from Fort Wayne Mad Ants has been averaging close to 50 points in the two exhibition games of the Bolts so far.

Unfortunately, the plan to bring Iran national star playmaker Mahdi Kamrani to complement Emmet did not push through. The Bolts, instead, had to settle with another Iranian playmaker Benny Koochoie.

In 2008, Koochoie is the first Assyrian to play for the Iranian National team after returning from his summer stint with Team Melli.

Koochoie is arguably the second most talented Iranian guard in the world after Kamrani. The 6-foot-4 inch California State University, Stanislaus product was born in Iran and most recently played in the Iranian Super League.

He previously represented the Iranian national basketball team in international competition and played for Iran's victorious Mahram team in the 2012 West Asia Basketball Association (WABA) Championship Cup.

In his brief stint in China in 2012, Koochoie averaged 4.5 ppg and 2.5 rpg. Before this interlude he played for a couple of teams in Iran. They were Petrochimi Bandar Imam Harbour in 2010-12 and Saba Mehr in 2009-10.

It was with Petrochimi that Koochoie made it to the Iranian Superleague Finals in 2012. The team reached the Superleague Semifinals in 2011 and 2010.

In 49 games spanning five clubs and four seasons, Koochoie averaged 10.6 markers, 3.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.9 steals an outing. Able to play both guard spots, Koochoie will look to strengthen the Bolts’ backcourt as well as ably serve as back-up to Emmett.

The 29-year-old Iranian was officially listed as 6-foot-1 and 15/16 by the PBA.

Asked on whether he can ably fill in the spot left by his compatriot and, who decided to forego a stint with the Bolts, Koochoie says,
“Not at all (pressured to fill in Kamrani’s shoes). Mahdi’s a great player, but I’m sure I can do the same job he can do, if not better."

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