He’s played against the likes of NBA stars Kevin Durant and Javale McGee and has been in the game for the best part of three decades but now Martin Iti finds himself in a situation like nothing he has experienced before.
Iti spent time playing high school and college ball in America while he also represented the Sydney Kings in the Australian NBL later in his career.
Now he’s part of a new-look Dubbo Rams outfit which is still searching for its first win of the season heading into Saturday’s third round clash with the Bankstown Bruins.
Iti admits he’s found it a challenge so far, having only agreed to join the Rams a week out from the season and the opening round clash with the Canberra Gunners marked the first time he met most of his teammates.
“It’s been good but it’s a different set-up for me,” he said.
“Now I’ve got a full time job and have to travel to Dubbo to play and I’m not as fit as I have been.
I love dunking and I grew up doing it.Martin Iti
“But it’s tough. I only said yes a week before the season and it’s just about knowing my body now I’m 35.
“It’s about my body doing what my mind says. It’s a big test for me but I’m giving it a crack.”
Iti had played with the likes of Steve Hall and Will Howell at an annual tournament at Gilgandra before and the chance to play out west more and promote the sport led him to link with the Rams.
Another thing motivating him to perform well at the Rams is to get kids and aspiring players hooked on the game.
Iti, as well as American import Adam Ward, delighted the home crowd in round one with a number of athletic, highlight-reel worthy slam dunks and the 213cm big man was delighted to see the reaction in the stands.
“That was one of the main reasons I came out here. Give young kids something fun and something different,” he said.
“I love dunking and I grew up doing it.”
It hasn’t been an easy start to the Waratah League season for the Rams, drawing three of the competition heavyweights in the opening three weeks.
After losses to Canberra and Sutherland, a home game against the Bankstown awaits on Saturday.
“It was a bit disappointing last week but we’re all still learning about who does what,” he said.
“I’m not a ball-handler and last week I found myself taking the ball out of frustration and that’s not my game.
“It’s only the early stages and the more we play together the more we’ll gel. It’s not a quick fix and we are rebuilding but it’s all about gelling and that comes with time.”
The match against Bankstown starts at 5pm on Saturday at the Woolshed.