Hume City Broncos’ big-name signings had an immediate impact in the first round of the Big V men’s state championship competition.
With a new look team, the Broncos started the season with a 114-91 win on the road against the Corio Bay Stingrays.
After trailing by two points at quarter-time, the Broncos got going in the second quarter with a massive 39 points.
Once in front, they stayed there, winning the last two quarters to run away with a convincing win.
Four Broncos scored double figures, with off-season recruits Jordan Coleman, Jake Martin and Jamal Shabazz scoring 21 apiece. Lee Jeka scored 19.
Coleman, Shabazz and Martin are expected to play key roles for the Broncos this season.
All from the US, they fell in love with Australia in previous years playing here, making it an easy decision to fly halfway around the world to step on to the basketball court again.
The three housemates have quickly bonded on and off the court.
For Coleman, the move to the Broncos this season hasn’t been a hard one.
He played with nearby Keilor Thunder, firstly in division 1 and then state championship division, in the past couple of years.
“It feels good,” he said of the move.
“I loved the guys at Keilor, but it was definitely time for a change for me. “It feels a lot more professional over here and I needed a change of scenery.
“We’ve got a great group of guys, a great coach as well – it’s been good so far.”
Coleman said his previous experience in the competition would make it easier for him this time round.
He said that while he had individual goals, there was a bigger focus.
“I just want to win a championship and keep this group together – that is the main goal,” he said.
“Every year I go back home and try and improve on my weaknesses and get stronger.
“Personally, I probably want to shoot a better percentage … I feel like that will help us as a team
“I feel like if we are playing well, my individual goals will come with that.”
Martin isn’t new to the Big V competition either, having played for the Bulleen Boomers in division 1 in his first season in Australia.
He had been playing in Western Australia the last year.
It was his relationship with new Broncos coach Matt Foster that got him back to Melbourne.
“It’s great being here,” he said. “I played my first year over here … it was nice in Perth, but I like being back Melbourne.
“There’s more opportunity over here with more teams.
“Coach Matt coached me at Bulleen. I talked to him a fair bit in the off-season. He has a winning mentality and that’s something I want to be a part of.”
Martin seemed destined to play basketball in Australia at some point of his career.
He is following in the footsteps of his father in playing basketball in Australia.
While playing in Taree, his father met his mother, with his two brothers both born in Australia.
Martin is a dual citizen.
“I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, but I’ve come back and forth when I was younger and saw Wollongong where my grandparents live,” he said.
“I got blessed with dual citizenship to play out here.”
Martin said he loved the atmosphere at the Broncos, saying that it reminds him of being back in college.
He said it was that sort of tough basketball that shaped him.
“He [Foster] expects a lot from us which is good, we want to win and it’s good to be part of a team like this,” he said.
After spending last season in Western Australia, Shabazz has decided to try his luck in Melbourne as well.
“I love being in Australia,” he said. “I was in WA last year … coming out to Melbourne is a different experience.
“It’s more of a bigger city and, I feel … a better opportunity with all the teams out in Melbourne … I’m just enjoying my time out here so far.”
Despite this being his first Big V season, there is one familiar face for Shabazz – his new teammate, Martin.
The two played against each other last year in Western Australia.
“I already knew Jake,” Shabazz said. “On his highlights tape, the first thing is him hitting the winning shot against my team.
“We have a little beef about that, otherwise it’s been good getting to know each other more.”
Shabazz said a conversation with Broncos coach Foster was what made the decision to move to Melbourne an easy one.
“He has a championship mentality,” he said.
“Since day one when he recruited me and let me know what he expects from me … he expects high character, which is valuable for me.”
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