Team USA and Iran basketball players nonetheless displayed sportsmanship before and after the game amid the U.S. cruising to a 120-66 victory on Wednesday. That included the teams applauding each others’ national anthems, players shaking hands, and Popovich shaking hands with Iran head coach Mehran Shahintab according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. Players from the two teams even posed for pictures together after the game as USA guard Damien Lillard and Iran guard Saeid Davarpanah notably did that. “Well I’m not the answer man, I’m not the Secretary of State or anything like that,” Popovich told the media on Wednesday. “But in general, you know, I think people in different countries get along a whole lot better than their governments do.”
“You know, once you get to the politicians and that sort of thing, it becomes much more complicated with, you know, self-interest and ideologies and personal agendas,” Popovich added. “But the people generally get along, appreciate each other no matter what country you’re talking about. I really believe that , I’ve always believed that.”
The Americans now will likely have to win their final two pool play games against Iran and Czech Republic to advance to the medal round. They could technically advance on scoring margin if they lose another game, however. “We were just trying too hard to do the right thing,” Lillard said. “Instead of just being who we are — the best players in the NBA.”
Despite a slow start and a bad shooting night, Spain managed to get a 73-65 win over Iran in Group C of FIBA World Cup. Spain won all three of its games so far and stayed at the top of the group while Iran lost all three and finished last. Puerto Rico (2-1) got the better of Tunisia (1-2) earlier today and advanced further. Marc Gasol led the winning side with 16 points while Victor Claver and Juancho Hernangomez added 11 each. The latter also grabbed ten rebounds for a double-double.
Last month, James White was home in Washington D.C. when the news hit: President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven Muslim-concentrated countries from entering the U.S. A day later, Iran, one of the countries included in the order, announced that it would ban U.S. citizens from entering its country. White, a first-year forward with Petrochimi Bandar Imam Harbour – a team in the Iran Super League – on a break from the team and scheduled to fly back the next day, wondered: Would he be able to return? A phone call to a coach eased his concerns. “He told me, ‘What, do you think our government is like the United States?’ and said everything would be OK,” White said in an email to The Vertical. “From the moment Trump was elected, everyone [in Iran] was just saying, ‘He is stupid.’ They only know what they read or see on TV, just like we do their country.”