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Locals came close to title win

Basketball: Two Armenian national team players return home from successful tournament.

July 14, 2010|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan, Special to the News-Press

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — They described it as one of the best trips of their lives.

It was memorable.

It was thrilling.

It was also devastating.

Burbank High graduate Christine Kepenekian and Arpine Amirkanyan — who have each played for the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Women's Basketball team — had what seemed like a perfect trip to Armenia. They were chosen to play for Armenia's women's national team and led their team to one victory after another in the European Championship Women Division C Tournament in Yerevan.


They were confident they would return home with a title in their hands, as they breezed through group play and their semifinal game.

Their heartbreak came in the final.

Despite Kepenekian's game-high 28 points, Malta defeated Armenia, 74-65, on July 3 to claim the title.

"It was ours," said Amirkanyan, who graduated from Grant High in 2007 and currently plays at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Georgia. "We should've won."

Kepenekian expected to win the game.

"I was really upset," she said. "I'm still really upset. They just outplayed us. I wish it was a series."

Even though she didn't bring home a championship trophy, the former All-Area Player of the Year captured the tournament's most valuable player award after averaging 22 points, seven rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.6 steals per game.

But the consummate team player said the MVP award didn't mean as much without the title.

"It doesn't mean anything if you don't win," she said.

Kepenekian made a statement from the opening game, pouring in a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Armenia to a 98-45 win against Gibraltar on June 29. Amirkanyan had seven points in the triumph.

The duo had a grand audience the next day.

Nearly half a million people in Armenia reportedly watched their national team post a 71-64 victory against Moldova. The game was broadcast on Armenian National Television, which preempted the end of the game in favor of a World Cup match between Paraguay and Japan. But the station received numerous complaints about its decision and opted to replay the basketball game in its entirely later that evening.

"That was unbelievable," said Amirkanyan, who averaged 6.8 points per game in the tournament. "They replayed the entire game at 2 o'clock in the morning."

After the win against Moldova, Kepenekian said she knew her team had a chance to win the title.

"They were a lot bigger than us," she said. "I felt like they were the toughest team in our group."

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