Yerevan to Host Basketball Championship

L. to r.: world renowned boxer Vanes Martirosyan, financial supporter Tomik Alexanian, player Zareh Zargaryan, player Mike Danielian, assistant coach Zorik Isajani, Armenian Consul General Grigor Hovhanissian, head coach Carl Bardakian, and player Gor Plavchyan

BY ROUBEN KRIKOURIAN

GLENDALE—Armenia’s newly formed Men’s National Basketball Team is preparing to compete in the FIBA European Division C Championship, which will be held in Yerevan in 2014, head coach Carl Bardakian said on Monday at a press conference in Glendale, California.

The European Division C Championship in Yerevan will be the first time Armenia is represented by a senior men’s national team in a European championship. The Division C Championship includes competing teams from Wales, Malta, Moldova, Scotland, and other European countries. No exact dates or venues for the competition have yet been announced.

The team is well underway with training in preparation for the competition. Having recently returned from a training camp in Armenia, the team will now continue its training in Los Angeles. Coach Bardakian said the team will have frequent training sessions at Lake Arrowhead to meet the challenge of competing at Yerevan’s higher elevations.

At the press conference, hosted by the Consulate of the Republic of Armenia in Glendale, Consul General Grigor Hovhanissian expressed his well wishes and delivered words of encouragement.

“I am very proud to have been involved in this process,” Hovhanissian said.

“Not only will we be competing in the Division C Championship, we will be hosting it. This is yet another great example of Armenia-Diaspora cooperation and what we can achieve. We have big plans. In a few years we want to be proud of our basketball team like we are proud of our soccer team.”

Coach Bardakian and the players expressed their excitement for the team and for being able to play for Armenia.

Zareh Zargaryan, MVP at CSU Dominguez Hills who led the team to a state title, said he knows the pressure is on and that, for him, playing for the team is more than a competition, “It’s about honor, it’s about representing Armenia.”

Asked about the state of basketball in Armenia, Gor Plavchyan, who has competed in Europe with Armenia’s Under-16 National Team, said he is looking forward to the impact that this team and hosting the competition will make on basketball in Armenia. “I’m confident that this will contribute to the growth of the sport in Armenia and will inspire Armenian youth to pursue basketball and one day, hopefully, be our successors on the team,” Plavchyan said.

The National Basketball Team (simply referred to as the Havaqakan in Armenian) is the brain child and hard work of renowned Armenian-American basketball coach Carl Bardakian and the Basketball Federation of Armenia (BFA).

Bardakian, based in Los Angeles, was student basketball manager at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in the 1990’s, when the team twice reached the NCAA Final Four. He later worked as assistant coach at Cleveland State University and at Chaffey College in California. Recently, he led the Los-Angeles men’s basketball team at the Pan-Armenian games in Armenia.

Having put work into creating the team since 2009, Coach Bardakian has gathered a selection of players from Armenia as well as the Diaspora. Team member Mike Danielian, who has played professionally for Wolfenbüttel basketball club in Germany, said all of the players on the team joined with enthusiasm and pride.

Asked about finances, Coach Bardakian said, “We don’t have to worry about sponsorships anymore in Armenia, since we will readily have corporate sponsors. The hard part is over.”

Now, the team agrees, the only thing on his and his players’ minds is winning the Division C Championship.

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