The summer of 2011 provided a lasting memory for Armenian-American basketball players from around the country after they came together in August to capture the Pan-Armenian men’s basketball championship. Los Angeles defeated Sochi, 93-86, in Yerevan to stake claim as the top Armenian team in the world.
After losing to Sochi, Russia in the 2009 gold medal game, the team representing Los Angeles, California needed overtime to trump the Russian squad to bring home the title. Mike Danielian (Van Nuys, Cali.) poured in 49 points for the Americans in the championship game. “Last time we were in Armenia we lost in the final game to the same Sochi team by 4 points. [In 2009] I was really fatigued. We had 6 games in 7 days so it was crucial I played almost very minute of every game” Danielian (pictured right #10, with Zack Armen #32) said.
In this summer’s semi-finals LA knocked out Tehran, while Sochi knocked out Glendale, setting up another match-up between LA and Sochi.
“Going into the final game this year I told the guys I would not let them lose. I would do anything in my power and I think I did. I played hearts out and left nothing out there. I could not take another loss. It would have been difficult to come back on a 15 hour flight again thinking I didnt play good and we lost” Danielian said.
Other members of the gold medal winning team were Artin Adjamian, Aret Akbork, Vahram Amayakyan, Zack Armen, Ara Demirjian, Kevork Demirjian, Eric Halejian, Andrei Taniel Oztemel and Ara Vartanian. Glendale College assistant basketball coach Zorik Isajane and New York-New Jersey Armenian Churches Sports Association basketball representative Levon Altiparmakian served as assistant coaches.