Armenian women’s basketball makes return after 14 years

The Armenian women’s basketball team is lacing up for the first time in 14 years.

A new era is about to begin for the Armenian women’s national basketball team – and for Armenian women’s basketball in general. For months, if not years, the women’s national team has worked to recruit and train players and coaches. Come May 18, the team will leap back into competition for the first time since winning a silver medal at the Women’s European Championship for Small Countries in 2010. 

Armenian women’s national basketball team

One of the main reasons behind the 14-year hiatus is a lack of funding for the women’s team. But now, the senior squad is back and preparing for the FIBA Women’s European Championship for Small Countries in Pristina, Kosovo from June 25-30. In Kosovo, Armenia will be grouped with Norway, Albania and Andorra.

One of the first real tests for the Armenian women’s team will be a friendly match against Redemption BC, which is part of the T. Ware Women’s Pro-Am League, on Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m. in Glendale, California. The match will be played at the Glendale High School gymnasium and marks the first time the women’s national team will compete in the United States.

The excitement for women’s hoops is palpable.

“I’m beyond excited for the return of the Armenian women’s basketball team! I’m extremely blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to play with these amazing girls and for the amazing coaching staff,” guard Kayla Keshmeshian told the Weekly. Keshmeshian helped the Armenian women’s U-18 team win a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship. 

Kayla Keshmeshian

“It’s an indescribable feeling. I’ve competed at the U18 and U20 levels for Armenia, where we proved that we can successfully host a tournament in Yerevan, and frankly, getting the band together with new and old pieces makes it feel like a dream,” forward Mary Markaryan said. Markaryan also helped Armenia win gold at the 2019 FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship. 

Long hours, training sessions before and after class and plenty of sacrifices have gone into getting the women’s team back into competition.

“We’ve been preparing a lot for the games! We’re working hard every single practice and getting to know each other and how we each play so we can come together and be even better as a group,” Keshmeshian added. The Armenian point/shooting guard plays college basketball at Cal Poly Pomona.

“Lot of vigorous workouts and chemistry building on and off the court. As a team consisting of various different members from across the globe, communication and consistency in growth will be the ultimate formula. Thankfully, our coaching staff has done a fantastic job at preparing us with workouts that will best prepare us for a mountainous country like Kosovo, where stamina will be key,” Markaryan added. She just completed her senior year playing for the Claremont McKenna College women’s basketball team.

Mary Markaryan

With every day that the women’s team puts into their end product, they build more cohesion. If there’s one takeaway from their comments, it’s that the players don’t see basketball as just another sport; it’s an integral part of their lives. 

Especially since they can now represent Armenia.

“It’s a surreal feeling. Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamt of representing Armenia at the highest level. And with the return of the Armenia WNT, this provides an opportunity for all of us to bring Armenia back on the map of women’s eurobasket,” Markaryan said.

“It means so much to me to see the national team back after 14 years. Armenia has not had an easy past, and to see that we can represent everything that Armenians have overcome is a blessing and a privilege,” Keshmeshian said.

Armenia’s senior women’s team isn’t the only squad competing on the European stage this summer. The Armenian U-18 women’s team will play Azerbaijan, Georgia and Albania in group B of the FIBA U18 Women’s EuroBasket, Division C tournament in Pristina, Kosovo from July 23-28. Armenia’s U-16 women’s team will play Azerbaijan, Georgia and Cyprus in group A of the FIBA U16 Women’s EuroBasket, Division C tournament in Gibraltar from July 9-14.

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian is a reporter, producer and weekend anchor at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa. Takhtadjian began college pursuing Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Aerospace until deciding to pursue a sports broadcast career after one semester at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. While at UNLV, Takhtadjian worked on his own weekly radio show/podcast covering soccer and basketball, produced his own sports debate show, was part of the university’s weekly sports show “The Rebel Report” and was the play-by-play commentator for UNLV men’s and women’s soccer and basketball, to name a few. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jason was graduating college and had to pivot to the world of general news to land a job. Three years after accepting a job in the middle of the United States with no Armenian community, Takhtadjian accepted a reporter position at KSEE in Fresno, California. The 26-year-old also worked as a contributor for Armenian Sports News, helping grow the page by thousands of followers in less than a year of work.

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