08 October 2015

Will Kamrani Join the Bolts Next Year?

There is one import that the Meralco Bolts has tapped this early for the season's Governor's Cup set to start next year. According to Joaquin Henson, Iran’s veteran point guard Mahdi Kamrani said that he’s been invited to play for Meralco and it looks like a possibility as the schedule won’t conflict with his commitment in the Chinese league.

Kamrani, 33, played at the FIBA World Cups in Turkey in 2010 and in Spain last year and also performed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing under coach Rajko Toroman. If Kamrani joins the Bolts, he’ll combine forces with the comebacking Jimmy Alapag, rookie Baser Amer, Simon Atkins and Anjo Caram in the Bolts' backcourt.

Meralco coach Norman Black confirmed the invitation to Kamrani but said nothing is finalized. Black is in Gilas coach Tab Baldwin’s staff for the 28th FIBA Asia Championships. He said Kamrani has been under Meralco’s radar since the PBA allowed the entry of Asian imports in the Governors Cup last season. With Kamrani previously unavailable, Meralco settled for Japanese guard Seiya Ando as its Asian import.

Kamrani played for the Jiangsu Tiongxi in the Chinese league last season, averaging 16.4 points and 5.2 assists. He was recently signed to play for the Chongqing Fly Dragon this campaign.

“I think it could work out,” said Kamrani about the opportunity to play in the PBA. “Coach Black spoke with me and also one of his players (Gilas reserve Gary David). The Chinese league ends in April depending on how far we go in the playoffs. Then, I plan to go to California with my wife and buy a house. I have family in the US so I hope to have a place there. Maybe, when I finish what I have to do in the US, I could play in the PBA next summer.”

Kamrani played down Iran’s defeat to the Philippines in the second round of eliminations. Gilas came back from 10 down to upset Iran, 87-73. Kamrani was held to 3-of-12 shooting from the field and finished with 11 points.

“We lacked focus and concentration,” he said. “It happens. If we play again, it will be a different story. We’ve beaten the Philippines so many times before. (Andray) Blatche is a good player who can shoot from outside but he’s not in condition. I think (Jayson) Castro and (Ranidel) de Ocampo are good shooters with the team but nobody else is consistent from the perimeter. (Calvin) Abueva likes to penetrate but he can’t shoot. He just drives and tries to make contact. We got hurt by Castro. We allowed him to enter the lane. We allowed the Philippines to beat us one-on-one. We allowed them to pressure us. Next time, it will be different.”

Kamrani said the Philippines’ style won’t work on the global stage. “What they like to do is play like the Americans, one-on-one but they don’t have the size of the Americans,” he said. “The US can do that because of their size.”

Kamrani said after losing to the Philippines, coach Dirk Bauermann called for a one-hour viewing session. The next day, the team got together for an early morning 1 1/2 hour meeting then played Palestine at 9:30 A.M. Iran blasted Palestine, 94-48, to generate momentum entering the knockout quarterfinals against Korea last Thursday.

Kamrani said he enjoys playing in China. “The Chinese fans are great,” he said. “They love the game. The Chinese league has 20 teams so we get to play a lot of games. My new team will be the second Beijing team after the Ducks. I’m excited to play in the Chinese league again.”

What’s evident in Kamrani’s play here is his inclination to score more than pass. At the end of two rounds of eliminations, Kamrani averaged 10.2 points and 2.5 assists. It’s the least Kamrani has averaged in assists in three previous FIBA Asia Championships. At the 2013 edition in Manila, Kamrani averaged 10.3 points and 6.6 assists.

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