Israeli teen outstanding player in US Wheelchair Basketball Championship

 
Israeli teenager Amit Vigoda (#24) is studying at the University of Texas at Arlington while playing hoops for the school in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.  (photo credit: USTA/COURTESY)
Israeli teenager Amit Vigoda (#24) is studying at the University of Texas at Arlington while playing hoops for the school in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
(photo credit: USTA/COURTESY)

"This was one of the most challenging years of my life... to move to a strange county, with a different language and new team, and learn how to be responsible and independent."

Amit Vigoda, 18, from Omar, starred in the US College Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Vigoda, who lost his leg when he was 11, was chosen as MVP (Outstanding Player) in the tournament after he scored 24 points in the finals against an Alabama college. In the semi-finals, the Israeli teen scored 30 points, half the points of his team.

Vigoda's leg was amputated after he was born with a rare disease, but that didn't stop him from playing for ILAN Spivak Ramat Gan and Israel's team. Six months ago, he was signed by a Texas team. 
"This was one of the most challenging years of my life in all respects," Vigoda said. "To move to a strange county, with a different language and new team, and learn how to be responsible and independent.  

"My team and I brought everything we had to the court from the start of the season, and like they say, hard work pays off," he said. "In the finals, we played together without an ego, we worked one for the other, and that's earned us the win and the ability to bring the championship back to UTA after three years."
His mother, Zimra, who stayed up all night to watch the game told Shavim, a media group which deals with people with disabilities: "It's difficult to express how I feel when I see him playing there. I'm proud of him and appreciate his determination. He lives, learns, practices and competes 12,000 kilometers from home. He's in a fantastic place to grow."
Just two weeks ago, a video of Amit scoring a goal from a distance of half a court blew up on social media. 

Another star in the US is Mary Silverman from Haifa, who plays for Alabama. The Israeli-born player merited the Alabama uniform in the women's league, after defeating Utah College 67 to 53 in the finals. "It was a hard game," said Silverman, "But we worked hard and in the end, we showed character and we won it."