Hapoel Holon made a big splash this summer when it inked Amine Noua, who has played a number of seasons in the Euroleague with ASVEL Villeurbanne in a move that turned many heads both in Israel and around the European basketball world.
The 26-year-old French forward will unbelievably be entering his ninth year as a professional, with eight of them coming with ASVEL and one being split between Andorra and Strasbourg.
Noua comes to the Holy Land with a huge wealth of basketball experience, which includes three seasons in the Euroleague, another trio in the EuroCup plus a campaign in each the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup.
It’s certainly not everyday that a player of Noua’s caliber lands in the Holy Land to play for the Purples, and the fans did not take his arrival for granted as they descended upon Ben-Gurion Airport in droves to welcome their new conquering hero to Israel.
Along with the supporters, The Jerusalem Post also was on-site to hear Noua’s first words as he stepped off of a direct flight from Lyon to Tel Aviv.
“I am so happy to be here,” Noua began as hundreds of Holon fans looked on. “Israeli basketball is getting better year after year and for me I just want to enjoy and play my game with all my talent on the court.”
Arriving in Israel and being welcomed
When Noua, along with his wife and child, walked through the doors into the arrivals hall, the purple faithful began to welcome the forward with song, dance, drums and much more in a welcome that he had never, ever experienced before.
“It was amazing! I wasn’t ready for this, but that is what I like, seeing fans like this. I know I’m ready now because I’ll know what they expect from me, I’m ready to play my game and enjoy them and see them at the arena.”
Last season, Noua played in both the Euroleague as well as the domestic French league where he averaged 7.4 points and three rebounds per game across all competitions in 68 games.
But he also featured in the Basketball Champions League back in the 2016/17 campaign - which is the competition that Holon has participated in over the past numbers of years - and advanced all the way to the Final Four back in the 2021/22 season.
“I’m ready for the competition and I played in the BCL six or seven years ago. I know how it is and all I want is to take Holon to the highest level, help them win games and win titles too.”
Noua could have taken his talents to many teams in different countries, but decided that Holon was the place where he could make an impact and help use his positive energy to lead by example, as he explained what was behind his decision to continue his career in Israel.
“I had many offers and I took my time to decide. For me I thought that this was the best project. I talked to the coach and he trusts me and I know he is going to put me in a great situation and that’s what I want.”
“Coach Amit Sherf explained to me that he wants me to take the team to the highest level and they all expect a lot from me, but I am ready. I’m only 26, but I have numerous years of professional and Euroleague experience, so I am ready for this new challenge.”
Interestingly enough, young Israeli sensation Noam Yaacov, who starred for the Under-20 team that took home the silver medal at this year’s European Championship, is beginning his third season with ASVEL after having been loaned out to Hapoel Jerusalem this past year. The blue-and-white guard trained together with Noua in Lyon and spoke to Holon’s new recruit, while also connecting him with Sherf, who will begin his first season as the head coach of Holon and also served as an assistant for the U20 team.
“I only heard great things about the club. I spoke to Noam and Coach Sherf, who had been with the Under-20 Israel National Team, and he told me great things and that’s why I came here.”
As for expectations, Noua looks to translate the success he had in France to Holon.
“I won three championships in France and that is what I want to play for. I know that Holon won the Israel league title two years ago and I want to put them at the highest level, and the highest level is to win. This is my goal.”
Along with Noua, Holon added a number of new players for this upcoming season, including veteran swingman Drew Crawford, who has played in Israel over the course of his career. All in all, the Lyon native can’t wait to get the season under way.
“Each year I try to be better and better on and off the court and that is what I am bringing here along with the experience that I have had especially in the Euroleague,” said Noua. “I also know Drew Crawford, who I played with in Spain, so I am happy to see him here and he is really a great player.
“We also have a great roster and a great coach. I know it will be his first year behind the bench, but I am sure he is going to be ready and we will have a good preparation and be ready for the first game, which is what I want. To be able to play in front of all these fans, I am so excited right now, so let’s do it!”