YEREVAN—Team Armenia beat the Slovak Republic 75-61 on Wednesday in the International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, 2019 World Cup European pre-qualifier games, inching Armenia closer to a spot in the qualifying games slated for November. The game was played at the Mika Sports Complex in Armenia’s capital, where Team Armenia will host Sweden Saturday.
Armenia’s win comes days after its boys and girls under 16 teams both clenched the FIBA championships during competitions in Andorra last week. Team Armenia also beat Azerbaijan in the under-20 competitions that were held last month.
“This is a great result for us,” Armenia’s Arkadiy Mkrtychyan told FIBA. “It was a hard game. We didn’t start well but after the first quarter, we changed our game and did a good job. I hope we can also win the second game.”
Mkrtchyan is a 21-year-old who plays for the Idaho Vandals in American college basketball. He had a shooting spell that will have captured the imagination. He caught fire with his team trailing, 24-18, early in the second quarter, reported FIBA.
Armenia’s coach Niksa Bavcevic was over the moon but paused to reflect that “We must work hard because we have five games left and must play better in those…I believe in my players.”
“We’re happy because we started the World Cup Pre-Qualifiers with a win,” added Bavcevic said. “But we must work hard because we have five games left and must play better in those.”
“I believe that win can have a good result,” Bavcevic said. “I believe in my players.”