“Off the court I feel like I’m an easy-going person who can get on with anyone and give my fair share of banter.” Marshall explained. “It's a bit different on the court, I turn completely competitive and will do all I can to get win.”
When a young Marshall woke up to a basketball ring decades ago, he could have never known the hours “shooting hoops from far away as possible” would prepare him for one of the biggest moments to hit the Big V competition in 2021.
Playing for Sunbury’s Championship Men, Marshall is part of the group trying to retain supremacy after the Jets’ Division One Men championship in 2019 moved the team up a grade.
Their start to the season was impressive, securing five wins and zero losses in the first rounds. What was even more impressive, was a single shot by Marshall that he’ll not soon forget.
The stage was set. Sunbury and Western Port feuding all game.
“We were not playing our best basketball that night,” Marshall said. “I think we were down 18 points at one stage late in the third quarter, and still down 12 points with five minutes to play.”
With six seconds remaining, Western Port guard and former Melbourne Tiger Daryl Corletto had an opportunity to put his team ahead but missed a contested three-point shot.
“I remember guarding Corletto thinking he’s about to hit a three pointer in my face to win the game, so when he pulled up, I closed out as hard as I could.
“Bakes got the rebound and I took a quick glance at the scoreboard. I just thought if he passes it to me just get it up. When I shot it, I knew it was close,
“It was obviously a really good feeling in the moment, and it probably showed the way I carried on with the celebration.”
The ability to pull off a half-court game-winning buzzer beater in the most elite level of Big V doesn’t happen overnight. For Marshall, it’s been a journey of loyalty and support.
“I have played for the Sunbury Jets all my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Marshall said.
His first season of representative basketball was in the Under-12 Boys with the Jets where Marshall’s team made Victorian Championship in the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) and progressed to the 2008 National Classic.
From there, he played in the VJBL until ageing out.
“Through that journey we had multiple years where we played Victorian Championship and finally won the Under-20's championship in 2015 in my bottom age year,
“(That) year I was a ‘benchwarmer’, but the team was so stacked that it didn’t faze me. This was probably the year I developed the most and started to understand basketball systems a lot more by playing with such good players and a coach who understood his players.
“I think it is important to be honest to yourself when you are perhaps spending a lot of time on the bench. When you get the opportunity, you need to make the most of it and play hard because they don’t come around all the time.”
Following his junior days, Marshall’s natural progression was to take the step into the Big V environment. He joined Sunbury’s Youth League team where opportunities presented saw his minutes on court grow exponentially.
The youth side experienced three years of close contentions for a championship, never quite grasping the flag.
“To go so close for my first three years in youth was pretty devastating and really showed me how hard it is to win Big V championships.”
In 2019 Marshall joined the senior men's team. It was a different standard of the game, but one he was all too willing to rise to. A hard-fought season directed by a coach's vision saw Sunbury defy odds and achieve greatness.
“The environment we created was strong,” Marshall reflected. “This was directed from our assistant coach, Daz, who developed our senior men's culture that was at rock bottom the year before and develop it into something special.
“To win a championship with the Sunbury army behind us the whole way was incredible,
“The expectation around the league was that we were going to be the ones getting relegated this year, but we have proved ourselves in our first year that we are going to give this thing a shake and we are no easy beat.
“We have a long way to go but I would love to play playoff basketball for my fifth straight year.”
As well as being a player, Marshall is the Domestic Competitions Officer with Sunbury Jets. He instructs one-on-one sessions with juniors and helps at camps, tryouts and other Jets programs where possible.
He believes his experience is something crafted by Sunbury that should be replicated for as many junior ballers as possible.
“The feeling around the club is like a family,” he said. “Everyone gets on so well with one another and it's something you want to be a part of.
“I think the culture has changed into a winning culture over the past five or so years with our women's program being so successful and leading the way. The men's culture is still building, and we are becoming a group with our Youth League side who are gaining great momentum in their season.”
To his success, Marshall credits his biological family and his basketball family.
“My parents, they have supported me week in week out barely missing a game for 13 years, driving all over Victoria every weekend.
“All the coaches I have had throughout my journey too, they give up a lot of time and effort that goes unrecognised,
“I would like to think that the role models in my life have shaped me to become someone who respects everyone linked to our team and all the members at Sunbury Basketball.”
Having been mentored, Marshall is now at a point in his career where he can become the mentor. It’s a responsibility not taken lightly, that he is confidently crushing. His plans for Sunbury... ready to take flight.
“I would love for the club as it continues to grow to get a chance to play NBL1. We have a lot of great young talent in our Under-12’s, Under-14’s and Under-16’s who deserve to have the opportunity to play at the highest level possible when they grow up,
“To be a role model for them would be great.”
“As for me, I don’t really have anyone I want to be when I am older, but looking back when my basketball journey is done, I would want all my mates to remember me as the ultimate teammate who does anything for the team to win,
“From a club perspective, loyalty is my main value, and I don’t think I could ever play for anyone else.”
So, what would Marshall’s key piece of advice be you may ask?
“Take your opportunities with both hands. Even if you start out as a ‘training player’ you can learn so many things to help develop your game,
“Put in the extra work and you will find results if you stick at it.”
Nathan Marshall had to answer these five questions as fast as he could. How did he go?
Go to post match snack? Zinger Stacker #NotSponsored
Current song on repeat? Foolproof – Hayden James
Best dad joke? What do you call a Mexican who lost his car? … Carlos!
Netflix choice? Prison Break
Nothing is better than... tunnies after a championship