HomeBlocksFront-GridVeterans Look to Defend Pan-Armenian Title

Veterans Look to Defend Pan-Armenian Title

By Edgar Stepanyan
Special to the Glendale News-Press

This is it for Zareh Avedian. Officially. For real, this time.
Avedian has been a fixture on the local men’s basketball scene for the past 23 years, from his time as a standout at Hoover High to his playing days at Cal Lutheran and to his exploits on the hardwood for the Glendale team that represented the Homenetmen Ararat chapter in the Pan-Armenian Games.
Twenty years after leading Glendale to its first title in the Pan-Armenian Games and four years after thinking he was going to retire after his squad’s second championship, Avedian said this summer’s tournament will be his last.
The 8th Pan-Armenian Summer Games will begin Saturday, Aug. 5, and run through Saturday, Aug. 19. The opening ceremony will take place in Gyumri, Armenia, and the closing ceremony will be in Yerevan, Armenia. Participants from around the world will compete for 107 medals in 17 sports.
The men’s basketball tournament is usually the highlight of the games.
Avedian has enjoyed the limelight and wants to finish his playing career by winning his third championship, something no one has done in the men’s basketball tournament.
He knows it will be hard to win, though. He is 42 years old, a husband and a father and is “eight times” as sore as he was eight years ago when he thought he was done playing competitive basketball.
“The body pain and the soreness I go through, it’s tough,” Avedian said. “I have to give props to my wife [Marine] because she puts up with my complaining about my soreness.”
Four years ago, Glendale defeated Beverly Hills 92-84 in the championship game, with Avedian scoring eight of his team’s final 15 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with less than three minutes remaining.
The core four players on that team are back.
Avedian, who had 15 points in the 2019 finals, will be joined in the starting lineup by former Burbank High standout Andre Spight, Hoover grad Zareh Zargaryan and Crescenta Valley High School graduate Narbeh Ebrahamian. All four played collegiate basketball.
The fifth starting spot is yet to be determined, according to coach Barsegh “BJ” Karamanian, who will have six new players this year.
Undoubtedly, Avedian, Karamanian and others admitted that Spight is the best player on the team.
“He is going to be the main guy,” Avedian said of Spight, who played in the NBA G League in 2019, spent last summer playing in a French Professional League and is currently a free agent. “He’s better than he was four years ago. He’s smarter. He’s stronger.”
The 6-foot-3 guard will be sharing the backcourt duties with Ebrahamian, who played at San Diego State.
Spight, who scored a game-high 40 points in the 2019 final, said he has been able to make his teammates better throughout the training sessions.
“I don’t need to score all the time to dominate the game,” he said. “I can dominate with passing and defense.”
What will be the key to winning another title?
“Doing the same thing,” said Zargaryan, who played at Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2011. “Get Andre easy buckets. Be ready to shoot when the ball comes to you. Make timely plays at timely times.”
Glendale will likely be the more experienced team in the tournament. It might also be one of the older ones. Zargaryan is a 34-year-old forward and Ebrahamian is 32.
“We’re four years older and four years wiser,” said Karamanian, who was the coach of the 2019 team, his first year as the head coach of the Glendale squad. “Being older is going to be a challenge. That’s what we’re going to try to figure out.”
Added Zargaryan: “It doesn’t matter how old we are, how slow we are, it’s all about the finding a way to be a champion.”
Some of the players will be leaving their families and jobs for two weeks to try to hang another championship banner when they return home. The sacrifices they’ll be making aren’t lost on the players.
“There is so much more basketball out there that people are playing,” Ebrahamian said. “More games. More tournaments. More leagues. We’re not a part of all of those leagues. We have families. We have jobs.”
Glendale has one job that it is focused on.
“Win a championship,” Zargaryan said. “That’s the only goal.”

First published in the July 29 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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