15 - 25
June 2023
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The pride of Israel: Garzon ready to put on a show for the fans

TEL AVIV (Israel) - As one of the leading players of her generation, there's an inevitable weight of expectation on the shoulders of Yarden Garzon as she steps out for her first FIBA Women’s EuroBasket.

Fortunately for co-hosts Israel, their aspiring do-it-all player won't be getting caught in the headlights and freezing on a long-awaited debut in the competition.

Labelled as one of the rising stars to watch in the tournament, Garzon could end up being a leading light as her nation looks to snap a 20-game losing streak at the event. The last time Israel won was more than a decade before Garzon was even born.



While that rear view mirror might deserve a quick glance for some context, the full focus of Garzon is on the road ahead. Unconcerned by her team's collective inexperience and lack of know-how in the competition, she just wants an agonizing wait to end and the curtain to be raised.

"We are a really young group and for most of us it's the first one, so we are really excited," she said.

"I really want to be on the court. I don't like all of the talking. I just want to be on the court in front of our friends and to just do my thing with my teammates.

"No-one really cares about age. Most of us are quite young. I learn from the other players a lot because they have been in these situations. Everyone brings their own experience to the team and this is what is special about us.

"I think we feel good together, we really like being with each other and hanging out, even non-basketball stuff. We are really excited, especially as it is here in Israel. We are waiting for our fans to come and to play for them."

Rising up with some stellar performances at FIBA youth level, Garzon caught the eye with her leadership and versatility. She also cut her teeth in the Israeli league, regularly going up against seasoned stars, even though she was barely 16-years-old at the time - putting her on the radar of NCAA colleges in America.

The journey led to Indiana and as anticipated, Garzon excelled in her first season with the Hoosiers. Her composure, scoring ability and tangible desire to compete and win at all costs shone through. 

So much so, she scooped multiple Freshman of the Week honors, set the school's single game record for three-pointers and helped them win the Big Ten Conference with a best ever season record.

Now Israel are about to harness those attributes.

"We are going into every game wanting to win," insisted Garzon.

"We want to accomplish everything we have been working on. I think we want to give 100 percent and leave the court knowing that we couldn't give any more. This is the goal for us: to give pride to the Israeli fans that will come and cheer for us.

"I think this is really important for women's basketball in Israel, this will help take us to the next step. It will be a great tournament and give pride to our nation."

"I think I am trying to do what the coach wants from me; to create for others, to score and make sure everyone is feeling good on the court. I think once we are having fun on the court, we will be fine."

Meanwhile, playing on home soil already makes this tournament memorable for Garzon and her colleagues whatever happens results-wise. But she has another reason why it might just prove unforgettable and something to cherish forever.

"It's a very special tournament for me because I am playing with my older sister Lior for the first time," smiled Garzon.

"We are really looking forward to it and it's going to be great."

Garzon and Israel open up their Group B campaign against Belgium on Thursday June 15 and will also face Italy and Czech Republic.