LOS ANGELES — Four of Homenetmen’s young athletes will be participating on Armenia’s National Basketball Team, Under 20 Division.
The athletes come from various Homenetmen chapters from Southern California: point guard Alex Iskenderian (San Fernando Valley Massis Chapter), point guard Gabriel Ajemian (Pasadena Azadamard Chapter), and guards Patrick Panossian and Kristapor Kurdoghlian (Crescenta Valley Shant Chapter). Of the four, three have already represented Armenia in various basketball competitions. The remaining athlete, Patrick Panossian, will be playing for Armenia’s national team for the first time.
All four are truly exemplary and passionate all-around Homenetmen athletes. During an interview at the Homenetmen Western Region office, they talked about their commitment to both Homenetmen and the Armenian National Team. They all have extensive experience playing in their respective high schools, colleges or Homenetmen teams. But representing Armenia?
Iskenderian related his own experience the first time he played for an Armenian national team.
“It was a great honor for me to play wearing Armenia’s jersey. It was a surreal experience playing in my first game against Cyprus when we were all lined up listening to the Armenian national anthem,” Iskenderian said.
For Ajemian, playing for Armenia’s national team meant, “above all, keeping high the honor of the homeland.” Ajemian has played for his age group on Armenia’s national team for over two years. The games he played against Iran and Montenegro were particularly memorable sporting Armenia’s jersey.
Panossian is playing for Armenia’s national team for the first time and is expectedly very enthusiastic. For him, it is an extraordinary experience to represent Armenia on the court.
When asked whether their experience playing in Homenetmen has helped prepare them for this next venture, all four responded, “Of course!” Playing internationally in the Under 20 division requires a different set of rules than the NBA or college basketball does within the United States, however, their experience playing with Homenetmen has allowed for them to quickly adapt.
Panossian added, “We are in constant conditioning, which allows us to have the physical ability to take part in the Armenia team.”
Further expanding the scope of their answer to the same question, they mentioned how playing in Homenetmen has taught them an invaluable skill: overcoming hardships. There exist practical hardships; naturally, the Armenian national team consists of players born and raised in Armenia, Russia, etc. These present difficulties in translating into a cohesive and clear collective will. And, of course, another natural difficulty is a language barrier, for some athletes do not speak Armenian fluently or know little English because they only speak Russian. When asked how they plan on communicating effectively with their teammates, they responded with laughter, almost as if to say, “we’ll figure it out.”
Soon these four athletes will head to Bulgaria to join the Armenia team. For a month, they will practice together twice a day, eat together and play together under the Armenian flag. All four affirm unequivocally that playing for Armenia, representing their homeland on the court, is an entirely unique experience, for which Homenetmen has truly prepared them on many levels.
Patrick, Alex, Gabriel, and Kristapor are yet another shining example of the seeds planted by Homenetmen. For this, they are all proud to serve their country and their nation.