He said his team was treated like family, the country was beautiful and the people were magnificent.

Menooa Aboolian, the head coach of the Glendale women's basketball team representing the Homenetmen Ararat chapter that participated in the fifth Pan-Armenian Games, said the trip to Yerevan, Armenia was nearly perfect.

"Almost," he said.

After breezing through its first six games and enjoying the country, Glendale took on a team from Tehran that Aboolian said was filled with professional players. Glendale couldn't match up with Tehran, losing, 86-67, on Aug. 21 in the championship game.

"We were up by nine in the first quarter and then they came back, tied it up, took a little lead in the third, and in the fourth quarter, they went on a run and ended it that way," Aboolian said.

"They had one player who we couldn't guard. She had over 30 points and 20 rebounds against us."

A day before the final, Glendale avenged its loss to Yerevan — a team that it lost to in the 2007 championship game — with what Aboolian called a "blowout victory."

"It was by more than 40 points," he said.

Glendale had easy victories throughout pool play and the playoffs.

"The teams were very, very weak. Extremely weak," said Glendale guard Aileen Vartanian, who graduated from Hoover High. "Once we started seeing the competition, we knew we wouldn't have a problem."

Vartanian played a crucial role, starting alongside Glendale High graduates Melia Basavand and Anna Shahinian, CV's Ella Stepanian, and Arpine Amirkhanyan.

"We had a team that everybody wanted to play together," Aboolian said. "Everybody went out of their way to make their teammates better. The girls were really focused on doing the best they can, to try to win the championship."

Despite the success in pool play, Vartanian said disappointment summed up the tournament.

"We had a clear way to the finals," she said. "Honestly, it's hard because the referees interpret the games a lot differently. We play rough. Over there, you can't play rough."

Vartanian and Co. played without star Christine Kepenekian, a Burbank High graduate and former member of the Ararat Women's Basketball team. Kepenekian tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the annual Homenetmen Navasartian Games on July 2 and missed the games.

"With or without Christine, the expectations were still the same," Aboolian said. "We still had the same goal to win the championship. We might not have gotten the first-place banner we wanted, but everybody got the experience of a lifetime."