Just ahead the 2020/21 season, Nes Ziona made a change on the coaching sidelines by bringing in new head coach Brad Greenberg. One of the first players the bench boss signed was 20-year old Amit Ebo who played under the veteran coach last season at Maccabi Ashdod. As training camp is about to open, The Sports Rabbi spoke with Ebo about the upcoming campaign, the opportunity to play in Europe and his career to date.
Interestingly enough, Ebo had signed to play for second division Elitzur Ashkelon but thankfully for the guard, there was an exit clause in his contract allowing him to sign with another team, “I’m excited and this is my fourth or fifth season in the WINNER League. I can’t wait for the year to begin and my expectation is to play as I did in the post coronavirus break league. Hopefully they will give me the opportunity so that I can repay their confidence in me.”
Nes Ziona’s sports director is one of Israel’s greatest players Meir Tapiro who coached Ebo at Hapoel Eilat while of course he will collaborate once again with Greenberg, “Meir not only coached me in Eilat but he is my personal coach in the summer as well and has worked a lot on my pick and roll along with how to read the game. Brad is Brad. He is like my father, an amazing person and it’s going to be great to be with him again.”
Ebo’s post break performance saw him score 8.8 points, in 22.3 minutes per game under interim coach Amit Tamir which also included a career high 16 points against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first game back in June. Over the course of the full season, the up and coming guard scored 5.3 points, handed out 1.7 assists and added 1.6 rebounds while hitting 35% from beyond the arc. Ashdod ending up being relegated following the season but Ebo was able to get proper playing time in order to perform on the big stage.
“Playing after the break felt like I finally had the chance to show what I could do which was great. It’s a downer for any played to be relegated and it’s not a lot of fun. It wasn’t pleasant, but there’s nothing you can do. Now it’s time to forge forward at Nes Ziona and I hope that things will end next season on a better note.”
Basketball was in Ebo’s blood from birth as his family played an important part in his development as a player, “My father played basketball for the Hapoel Tel Aviv youth team and my role model has been my brother. Since I was little he would always teach me things and he was also a baller. He was able to help me understand how to deal with difficulties that I would encounter along the way,”
Although his father may have grown up as part of Tel Aviv’s red team, Ebo himself went the other way and wore the yellow-and-blue of Maccabi Tel Aviv. “It was tough at the start because they changed a number of coaches but as time went by it was amazing. They gave me so much and helped me develop as a player and as a person. They gave me the tools to continue on.”
One of the players that Ebo had the chance to play with was Dragon Bender who was selected with the 4th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft but still hasn’t been able to reach his potential. “I believe that perhaps he wasn’t as good as they thought he was going to be. I played with him and he has plenty of talent so I am not quite sure what happened there.”
One of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s stars Yovel Zoosman was another player that Ebo shared the floor with, “Zoosman is the best person I have ever met, really he is one of the greatest people to talk with and we are in touch to this day. His development has been phenomenal. From just a youth team player, he has become one of the best defenders in the Euroleague and I even told him that a week ago. He has gained so much confidence it’s incredible to see.”
Despite having not played with Deni Avdija who will be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Ebo can only marvel as to how he starred in the Israeli league this past season, “He was just great in league play and I hope everything will go well for him and that he will find his place in the NBA. He has everything that he will need to succeed there. Now it’s up to him and the team that will select him in the draft and how much belief they will have in him and the peace and quiet to do what he needs to.”
During the 2016/17 season, Ebo made his debut for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first team as Coach Ainars Bagatskis gave him the opportunity to play against Maccabi Haifa in a game that he drilled home a triple. The Latvian bench boss said before the clash against the Greens that, “Amit Ebo can play and while he’s young he’s very talented and I don’t remember such a young player like him at Maccabi”.
“First off, that’s an amazing compliment to get as a 16 year old from the head coach of Maccabi,” Ebo said. “To step on the Yad Eliyahu floor at that age is like a dream for any player. I realized a dream and I am happy that it was with him. I have to thank him for that opportunity.”
The following campaign saw Ebo play for Meir Tapiro at Hapoel Eilat but was let go and a new coach, Sharon Drucker came in. The guard had the opportunity to play with Arik Nissim why had played many years in Europe as well as Jordan Loyd who won the NBA title with the Toronto Raptors.
“Playing with Jordan was awesome and we are still in contact today. He’s a person of gold and those who know him know that he has a huge heart and is a great player. He’s really like a big brother to me and he taught me English as I taught him Hebrew. He helped me so much. As for Arik, I learnt so much from his experience, he’s a great person.”
Ebo then moved to Maccabi Hod HaSharon during the season and scored 14 points with 3.4 three pointers in 37 minutes per game with the Leumit club, “I think that playing at Hod HaSharon helped me because after Meir Tapiro was fired, Sharon Drucker didn’t give me much of a chance to play. But when I moved to play under Chanan Hershkowitz I was playing almost the full game and I put up some good numbers which allowed me to go to Rishon Le’Zion in the top league.”
Zvika Sherf began the 2018/19 season as the Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion but soon after winning the WINNER Cup Preseason tournament he was replaced and Ebo was on the move again, this time to Maccabi Ashdod, “I began the year well under Zvika but then with the coaching change I needed to move and Ashdod was where I ended up.”
Ebo has a height disadvantage against many others who play the same position but he has been able to find a way to use it to the good, “With good tactics, other players need to come and help and I do the same for them. It has nothing to do with height it’s a matter if knowing of where and how to help out.”
The Kfar Saba native also spoke about having the ability to shoot the ball well from multiple areas and ranges, “It comes from having confidence. The minute that the staff and everyone around you gives you confidence this things just come naturally without having to think. The sky’s the limit and you can just do what you want and feel comfortable doing it.”
As for what the future holds for Ebo, he believes that one day he may return to Maccabi through the front door but for now his goals are to maintain his forward trajectory, “I want to try and improve from year to year both as a person and as a player and just keep moving on up.”