Victoria Wiseman returns to Israel for pro basketball career
By Tova Friedman ; Photos Courtesy of Victoria Wiseman, BlueWhite Basketball
Victoria Wiseman knew she had to come back.
Three years ago, Wiseman won a bronze medal with Canada’s open women’s basketball team at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. The experience was an inspiring one for the Montreal native, who recently completed her rookie campaign with Hapoel Petah Tikva in the Israeli women’s professional league.
“Playing at the professional level in Israel is something that you think you are prepared for, but you quickly learn otherwise,” said Wiseman, who played her collegiate career with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), an NCAA Division II school. “My maturity level within the game of basketball has been one of my biggest changes…The level of competition has made me re-evaluate what my role on each team is and has made me adapt.”
Wiseman came off the bench for much of her first year in the Israeli league, after averaging 24.3 minutes and 12.6 points per game to lead SNHU in scoring last season. In a challenging season for her new team – Hapoel Petah Tikva struggled to a 3-18 record and last-place finish in the eight-team league – the 24-year-old is confident in her development process.
“In the Maccabiah and in Southern New Hampshire, I’ve always been the go-to player that others look up to on and off the court,” said Wiseman. “It has not necessarily been my strength in Israel yet, but I know I can become that player because I have done it before.”
The league features former NCAA Div. I players, in addition to some drafted by the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Julia Peress, Wiseman’s coach in Montreal at the YM-YWHA Jewish Community Centre and a former junior Maccabiah bench boss, is one who believes she has what it takes to play professionally. Peress has maintained a close relationship with Wiseman over the years and says she saw a natural ability in her from a young age.
“I have come across very few players who understand the game the way she does,” said Peress. “It’s almost as if she knows what she’s going to do with the ball before she even catches it. She was born with the answer key in her hands.”
Wiseman began working with Peress when she was just 12 years old, and highly credits her long-time coach on her success, calling Peress her biggest inspiration in basketball.
“Julia inspired me to believe in myself,” said Wiseman, who played for Peress at the 2005 JCC Macccabi Games and was encouraged by her coach to consider basketball prep schools in the United States. “(She) taught me that it was okay to have aspirations and goals that no one around me had reached before.”
Wiseman’s dedication to the sport has also rubbed off on others. Jennifer Silver, a teammate at the Maccabiah, and a third-year forward with her hometown McGill Martlets, valued the veteran’s presence during the tournament and the learning experience it afforded her.
“We only had eight players on our roster and Vic stepped up as a leader for our team,” said Silver. “Vic showed that she could play against tough competition. She was calm on the court and brought out the best in (us).”
Wiseman hopes she’ll have a similar impact, now that she’s returned to her homeland.
“I want to make a name for myself in Israel,” she said.
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