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U.S., Iranian Players Congratulate Each Other After Basketball Contest


U.S. and Iranian national basketball players congratulate each other following their game at FIBA's world championships in Istanbul on September 1.

U.S. and Iranian national basketball players congratulate each other following their game at FIBA's world championships in Istanbul on September 1.

Members of the U.S. and Iranian men's national basketball teams have congratulated each other following a lopsided U.S. victory at the FIBA world championships in Turkey.

The 88-51 U.S. win was the first-ever match between the Iranian and U.S. teams.

The tournament marks Iran's first trip to basketball's world championships.

Players and coaches on both sides downplayed the political tensions between the U.S. and Iranian governments, saying the focus was on basketball competition and that the players respected each others' abilities.

"From my side and Iranian side they are, we are prepared for a sports game, you know," Iran's Serbian coach, Veselin Matic, said. "But everybody [outside] the sports they are looking like Iranian atom bomb or American policy on Iran. But we are looking differently. We are looking that we are coming to the world championships. We are really impressed that we are here."

American basketball forward Lamar Odom, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA), also stressed that off-court differences remain just that in such a contest.

"That's the beautiful thing about sports," Odom said. "You think about the history of sports -- it takes people from different cultures, different beliefs, and brings them together. Sports is the one thing that can kind of bring people together to have a great atmosphere. It was great just to play in a game like this."

Iranian center Hamed Haddadi, who plays for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, led all scorers in the game with 19 points.

compiled from agency reports
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