LOS ANGELES — With a heightened level of interest and a continued demand for basketball in Armenia, decade-long discussions of establishing a men’s national basketball team are coming to fruition, with the tireless efforts of philanthropist Tomik Alexanian, Coach Carl Bardakian and others who are working hard to turn that dream into a reality.
It all began in 2011 at the conclusion of the Pan Armenian Games where LA. men’s basketball team won first place. Alexanian was asked to assist the RA National Basketball team in preparation of the FIBA Division C competition under the leadership of Coach Carl Bardakian and Assistant Coach Zorik Isajani.
For the first time in history, the Armenian National Basketball Team will not only participate in the European FIBA Division C tournament, but the games are slated to be held in Yerevan. The Armenian Basketball Federation (BFA) headed by President Hratchya Rostomyan, has set the wheels in motion towards this endeavor. Alexanian believes this will generate an even stronger level of interest as the number of candidates vying for a spot on the team continues to rise.
Coach Bardakian, whose participation in the BFA dates back to 2009, served as a student manager at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor during which the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Final Four, twice in the 1990’s. He later moved on to become an assistant coach at Cleveland State University and Chaffey College.
When asked about his thoughts on Armenia’s historic participation in the 2014 FIBA competition, Bardakian replied that although it would be a historically significant moment for the sport of basketball in Armenia, it is imporant to be competetive from the outset and to reprsent Armenia with honor. He also credited Hrachya Rostamyan, President of the BFA for his vision and leadership in regards to the establishment of the team.
Alexanian’s inspiration stems from his love for basketball which dates back to the 1970’s when he played for Ararat, the highly regarded Armenian athletic organization in Tehran, Iran. He also played for Iran’s Army Team and was appointed as a liaison for all of Ararat’s men basketball teams from 1971 through 1978.
“The Team is inspired,” Alexanian said. “The Players are committed. Training camps are being scheduled. Everyone around the team is excited to win the FIBA Division C Championship in their Fatherland of Armenia in June of 2014. The goal is to assemble the best players with Armenian heritage around the world and the coaches are doing that perfectly,” Alexanian said.
“Of course we still have some tough challenges, but no hurdle will stop us from achieving our goal to participate and hopefully win the FIBA Division C championship.” He later added that the team will be made up of the best basketball players of Armenian descent in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.
Former CSU Dominguez Hills MVP Zareh Zargaryan who led the NCAA team to a state title said that for him, playing for the team is more than a competition, its about honor and representing Armenia.