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Abramzon Hopes To Make Impact

26 September 2007
By Yarone Arbel

EuroBasket is where the past, present and future meet.

The former stars come for one last chance to try and win a medal.

While the current stars gather from the top teams to lead the national teams, and then you have the young generation who needs to make the jump from the youth tournaments to the senior level.

Israel's Katya Abramzon belongs to the later group.

Liron Cohen (Israel)
Abramzon hopes to learn from older team-mates like Liron Cohen.
The 20-year-old forward is playing her first EuroBasket, and already on the second day caught her spot in the starting five, to finish with 15 points, six rebounds and two assists.

With less than a minute to go and Latvia up by two Abramzon blocked a shot at one end and had the guts to try and nail her fourth three-pointer of the night, to put Israel back on top.

Her shot went in-and-out, squeezing an almost impossible to miss emotional reaction from her.

Israel eventually lost by four.

That still didn't take anything from her great performance, and the courage she showed in taking that shot – something you don't see from many 20-year-olds in their first EuroBasket.

"I felt good when it left my fingers, but then it went around the rim and out. It happens. It's part of the game," she said.

This match was special for the Abramzons.

Katya was born in Riga, Latvia and her grandparents on her mom's side actually still live there.

"It wasn't anything special for me. We moved out of Riga when I was three years old, and although I still visit there once in a while, I didn't have any special feeling."

"When my grandparents heard that I will play against Latvia they were very excited and warned in advance they will have a problem deciding who to support in the game," she revealed laughing.

Katya moved with her family to Israel when she was 13, before she had started playing basketball.

It was only a year later that coach Raffi Bogatin, in her hometown of Karmiel, saw the young girl standing around, already 170cm tall, and persuaded her to try the game.

"The first year I played only twice a week, but once I saw it's something I really enjoy and

Team Israel
Israel have lost both their games so far but a win over Turkey will put them through.
can do well, I started to take it seriously."

"My dad was pushing me, but at first my mom didn't approve. She said basketball is too manly, so I had to go to practices behind her back."

That didn't last long.

Katya's talent was quickly spotted and hiding from mom was no longer an option, and since mother Abramzon acknowledged, she's Katya's biggest supporter.

At 16 she had already played with the Israeli Cadettes national team in the European Championship.

Since then she has been a member of every youth national team, and early this summer, in the U20 championship, she finished as the top rebounder of the competition with 12.8 rpg.

"I enjoy to do many things on court, and I believe defense is the most important aspect, but rebound, on either end, is probably my biggest love. I believe rebounds are what wins games."

"To be a good rebounder you need timing, athleticism and position is very, very important," she says and adds, "Some of those things you can't learn. It's a gift from god."

But there's one more aspect in Abramzon's game that gives her advantage over her opponents.

"I have springs in my feet," she says jokingly but her game doesn't stop there.

Abramzon plays hard on defense in every possession, never forces her game on the team in offense but can still hit shots when given the opportunity, an aspect she has improved on in the last year.

Mix that with high basketball IQ and you get a great talent already, but it doesn't stop there.

She's very passionate about the game, fights in every position and never gives up.

It's pretty impossible to miss while watching her, and very much fascinating to follow.

"Every second I'm on court I want to be fully involved, but sometimes I get too emotional."

"I'm very sensitive and always want to succeed, and when something doesn't work for me I get upset, but as I mature I learn how to use it for my best and to play better. The girls here help me with that too."

Playing for the senior team for the first time, especially in EuroBasket, made this tournament even more exciting for Katya.

For a change she didn't join a national team as one of the vital parts, and needs to prove herself again and again.

"If I screw up I will pay for it faster than before. That forces me to come to every game with a much more mature approach."

"The senior game is different - more intense and physical. For me it's more interesting and challenging, because that's how I like to play."

Towards the big win-or-die game against Turkey today she's confident in her team.

"We must fight until the very end. Yesterday we were missing small things. I really hope today we'll pick them up and then we'll prevail."

"We must gather ourselves and not fall apart from this game. We need to play our game, and hopefully have some luck that we lacked against Latvia."

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