Armenian basketball rebirth launched: analysis

13:10 - 28 Jun, 2016

The European Championship for Small Countries is kicking off. The Armenia national basketball team is going to take part in it for the first time in the history of independent Armenia.

Armenia has never succeeded in the team sports. Many people joke about it saying that the reason is the Armenian mentality; they are not united.

We, the contemporaries, saying Armenian basketball, recall “Hatis”. Not the one that was playing brilliantly during the Soviet years but the team revived in 2009 which proved everybody with its play that there is no problem of unity but lack of attention.

From 2011 the Armenia U16 and U20 men’s and women’s teams began to participate periodically in European Championships Division B, C. These teams prepared a base for the creation of the national team. Pan-Armenian Games also played an important role; many Armenian basketball players from different parts of the world took part in the games, stood out with their skills and were invited to the national team by the Armenian Basketball Federation. The federation took serious steps to create girls’ and boys’ different age group teams.

Experienced coaches were invited. Tigran Gyokchyan took the helm of the national team and made the choice of the players. One of the best players of Euroleague, Bryant Dunston, who was named the best European defender of 2014 and 2015, was invited to the team.

The invited players, headed by the coach, conducted a training camp in Yerevan. During that time we were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the players. Though they have come from different sides of the world, they are multilingual and very different, they all are united by basketball, Armenia and a desire to win. During the interview the guys noted that they were proud to play for Armenia, pleased with the coach and considered it a real success to play in the same team with Bryant Dunston. They also promised to return with victory.

If we set aside passions and be realistic we’ll see that the newly formed Armenian team cannot be the favorite from the very first competition.  Though the team is comprised of high-level players who shine in their clubs, they need time to become as one and to understand each other perfectly. Despite this, the international media writes that the opponents “are afraid of” the Armenia national team as the team is strong. When the guys heard of it they noted laughing that they are nor “scary” but aren’t going to yield to anyone either.

The line-up of the Armenia national basketball team; Defenders - Andre Spight Mkrtchyan, “Sun Devils” (USA), Amiran Amirkhanov, “Legion” (Kazakhstan), Artur Khachaturyan “Kharkov” (Ukraine), Sergey Polukhin “Elbrus” (Russia), Mike Danielian “Bayer 05” (Germany).  Attackers - Artyom Tavakalyan “Hornets Delaware” (USA), Michael Poghosyan “Thiel Tomcats” (USA), Zareh Zargaryan “Dominguez Hills” (USA), Andrey Konstantinov “Arsenal Tula” (Russia), Center players - Bryant Dunston “Anadolu Efes” Turkey, Konstantin Mirzoyants “Tambov” (Russia).

About the European Championship for Small Countries

The European Championship for Small Countries was first held in Malta not so long ago, in 1988, where the winner became the Iceland national team. Iceland has won the gold of the championship twice (1988, 1990).  But Andorra has won the championship most of all, it has scored 5 gold medals (1998, 200, 2004, 2012, 2014). Austria (1992, 1996) and Azerbaijan (2006, 2008) have become champions twice. San Marino (2002), Ireland (1994) and Denmark (2010) have returned home with victory once.

The European Championship for Small Countries is held every two years. This year eight countries are taking part in it – Andorra, Armenia, Gibraltar, Ireland, Malta, Moldova, San Marino and Wales.

The Armenian team is included in group B where it will compete against Moldova, the home team, Andorra, the most titular team, and Wales.

The first match of Armenia will take place on June 28, at 19:15 and you can watch it online on Public TV.

Shushanik Hakobyan

ANOC press service

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