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In First Game Back Since Gold Medal, Armenia to Battle France in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, here we come. 

On Monday, the Armenian Basketball Federation announced "The Armenian Basketball Classic", two back-to-back games against the French National Team to be played at Cal State-Northridge basketball facilities on June 16th and 17th.

It will be the Armenian National Team’s first game back since their come-from-behind finals victory over Malta that secured them a gold medal in the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries last July.  

The team is likely to see the return of shooting guard sensation Andre Mkrtchyan Spight, who is currently playing on their opponent's home turf for French professional team ALM Evreux. Familiar faces will also likely include Matthew Madoian who served on the video staff for the Detroit Pistons this past season, where Armenian National Team head coach Rex Kalamian is an assistant coach. Gold medal winner Gabriel Ajemian could see the floor for Kalamian's squad, after he nearly completed an 18-point comeback in the AABA Finals for his Armens team this past weekend.

There are question marks surrounding how the rest of the roster will shake out. 

In March, small forward Albert Tatevosyan, who averaged 16.8 points per game on 48.8% from the three point line during Armenia’s tournament run last year, won the Final MVP in the Caucasus Basketball League finals for Vahakhi City. We will see if he will make the trip out from Armenia to step onto the CSUN hardwood. 

The biggest locker room murmurs are around Gary Chivichyan, the “Armenian Sniper” who’s 3-point splashes have landed him a key role on the Vancouver Volcanoes TBL pro-am team.  Chivichyan was not a part of the team last year, but could provide a huge boost against a French side that will likely be without NBA stars Rudy Golbert and Evan Fournier. 

Could projected-number one overall pick in the NBA draft Victor Wembanyama play for the French side? While it is doubtful for basketball enthusiasts, Wembanyama is projected to be picked by the Detroit Pistons, who hold the number one overall pick and where Armenian head coach Rex Kalamian is still on staff as an assistant coach. 

In April, Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey was relieved of his head coaching duties in a move to a front office role, leaving a head coach vacancy. A couple weeks later, reports came out saying Kalamian was set to interview for the job.

Could this be a potential player-coach pairing that is first seen as foes? While the Pistons are still in the head coach search, Kalamian was seen as a potential favorite because of his role developing the Pistons’ 2021 number one overall pick Cade Cunningham. After trading for 2020 number two overall pick James Wiseman mid-season, Kalamian could be in a position for a team full of young developing stars, if he were to get the main chair.

French sensation Victor Wembanyama is projected to be drafted by the Detroit Pistons, where Armenian National Team coach Rex Kalamian is an assistant coach.
French sensation Victor Wembanyama is projected to be drafted by the Detroit Pistons, where Armenian National Team coach Rex Kalamian is an assistant coach. Photo by John Locher of Associated Press.

All is speculation as the teams are set to play on June 16th and 17th, with ticket information still yet to be released. 

It will be the first time the Armenian National Basketball team has played in Los Angeles with this roster of players. 

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