Basketball: Hatis blame bad refereeing for defeat in Russia; still well positioned for qualification

Yerevan basketball club Hatis suffered their second consecutive defeat in the women’s 2009/2010 European Cup qualifying Group F, this time while traveling to Vologda in northern Russia. Playing against the local team, Chevakata, Thursday, the Armenians lost 91-82 in a game that left Hatis coaches screaming foul over the refereeing.

Trailing 48-30 after the first half, the Armenians improved in the second but could not catch up with the Russians. In contrast, Gia Ghazanchyan’s team beat Chevakata 103-99 when the Russian team was visitors in Yerevan last month.

Jamaica’s Maurita Reid scored 22 for Hatis in Vologda, while Ukraine’s Ganna Zarytska and Serbia’s Bojana Vulic brought the team 18 and 15 points, respectively.

The Hatis management, however, believe that Chevakata achieved the victory due to the bias shown by the game referees. “We did not see such bad refereeing either in Athens or Istanbul where Hatis also encountered bias from referees,” the club said in a statement published on its official website, www.hatis.am.

Hatis said it had brought home the video of the game and would show on local TV for the Armenian fans “to see it for themselves how bad the refereeing was in that game.”

Armenian Basketball Federation President Hrachya Rostomyan also described the referring as “brazenly outrageous”. He told ArmeniaNow by phone that in the conditions that the team were playing in Vologda they simply could not get a positive result and were doomed to failure. “I have not seen such a disgraceful refereeing in my life. Everything was being done openly, without attempts to conceal preferences. And, of course, everything was being done for Chevakata to win. The referees from Romania and Moldova acted in a concerted manner and simply killed the game,” said Rostomyan.

“I always try to see causes for defeats inside the team, but this is not the case to be silent – what happened has transgressed all boundaries,” said Rostomyan, adding that the Armenian federation has already communicated its complaint to FIBA Europe, the governing body for basketball in the continent. (The owner of Chevakata is Russia-based Armenian entrepreneur Arkady Poghosyan).

In the other Group F qualifier on Thursday Sony Athinaikos (Athens, Greece) beat Besiktas (Istanbul, Turkey) 81-60 to hold on to its spot atop Group F.

This latest defeat still leaves Hatis in third position in four-team Group F (a potentially qualifying spot).

After five rounds, Hatis have 6 points and are behind Sony Athinaikos (12 points) and Besiktas (9 points). Chevakata are in fourth position with only one win in five games (and 3 points).

The next Hatis game (and last in the Group F campaign) is against Besiktas in Yerevan, December 17. The home side will need a victory to secure its qualification from the group.

As all Hatis home games this season, the upcoming qualifier is also expected to sell out well in advance given the “basketball boom” that Armenia is seeing due to the Yerevan team’s successful performances in the European tournament (not to mention the facts that the visitors will be Turks).