Basketball Extravaganza Reaches Armenia

15 June 2010

Armenia are gearing up for one of the biggest moments in the country's basketball history.

Later this month, Yerevan will stage the European Championship Women Division C tournament with Armenia taking on Andorra, Gibraltar and Moldova in Group A and Malta, Wales and Scotland squaring off in Group B.

The top two sides from each group will advance to the Semi-Finals.

Armenia plan on being one of the teams in the last four.

"Our goal is to reach the final," said Armenian coach Gia Ghazanchyan.

There has been a basketball buzz all season long in Yerevan, the home of EuroCup Women side HATIS.

Ghazanchyan is also the coach of that side and he guided it into the Sixteenth-Finals of the continental competition.

Once there, however, HATIS fell in two games to Nadezhda, losing 160-134 on aggregate.

Nadezhda would go on to lose a thrilling EuroCup Women title showdown to Sony Athinaikos over two legs.

Past, And Present

Armenia played in the European Promotion Cup for Women in 1998, winning two of their five games, and in 2004 when they prevailed in three of five contests.

Hopes are high that this year will be even better, and some of the optimism is because of the make-up of the squad.

Former Cal State Bakersfield guard Christine Kepenekian and ex-Eastern Michigan standout Kris Kachaturoff were invited to try out for the Armenia team in May.

As the last names suggest, each player is of Armenian extraction.

A native of Burbank, California, Kepenekian's last season at Cal State Bakersfield was in 2008-09.

Playing for Armenia would not only be a proud moment for her and her family, but it would also potentially open up doors to a career in Europe.

"I am really excited to get the chance to play competitive basketball again," said Kepenekian after being contacted by Armenia.

"I've been to Armenia twice before to visit my mom's side of the family.

"This is a great experience that will hopefully help me gain exposure to try and play on other professional teams after the tournament.

"I miss playing at the collegiate level and having the opportunity to play for the national team helps me continue my basketball journey, even if it's only for a short period of time."

Among those who believe the 5ft 7in Kepenekian could help Armenia is her college coach.

"Christine was a great player for us and helped make our team better," said CSUB coach Tim La Kose.

"Any team she plays on will be better with her on it because she works hard and competes. We wish her the best of luck."

Armenia's prospects look even better, in fact.

Amanda Jackson, who played in the two EuroCup Women games against Nadezhda, has apparently received Armenian citizenship and could also be in the squad when the Yerevan hosts the European Championship Women Division C from June 28 to July 3.

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