Rams forward Marcel Jones a basketball nomad

Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014
Marcel Jones
GLOBETROTTER: Canterbury Ram Marcel Jones has played professionally in seven different overseas basketball leagues.

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Canterbury Rams forward Marcel Jones has seen it all during his career as a professional basketballer.

He's played in front of the military in Syria, lived close to the Adriatic coastline in Bosnia and shivered through freezing temperatures in Finland.

Living out of a suitcase and spending large chunks of the year in countries where you are not familiar with the native tongue is not for everyone. American-born Jones would not have it any other way, however.

Getting paid to see the world and play the game he loves is a dream occupation.

The 28-year-old gained New Zealand citizenship last year and is married to a Kiwi woman.

He travels everywhere with wife, Megan, and said it was already proving a great cultural experience for their eight-month-old daughter Arya.

"She's having a good time. My daughter has been to more places than most adults."

Jones, who first arrived in New Zealand in 2009, has previously played for the Wellington Saints and Manawatu Jets. When an opportunity came up to sign up with the Rams on their return to the National Basketball League, after finishing up in Italy, he jumped at the opportunity.

"I felt like the story to come down here with the rebuild and bringing hope to the city was a good story."

Jones' globetrotting adventures have seen him play in seven different international leagues, including stops in Syria, Finland, Bosnia, Romania and England.

He lived in the Syrian capital of Damascus during the 2010-2011 season and said he was fortunate to play there before civil war broke out.

Basketball is a popular sport in the Middle Eastern nation and Jones said he regularly played in front of 4000 fans, including military personnel, at home games.

"I played there before the political unrest happened. I wouldn't go there now," he said.

"The people were very nice in Syria. Those are probably the nicest people I've met, actually. They love the little things in life."

Jones played for a team in the Bosnian city of Mostar after his stint in Syria, and said he enjoyed his time in Eastern Europe.

The country is thriving after the Bosnian War in the early 1990s and Jones said the warm summer climate appealed.

"I loved Bosnia. We were by the sea. We'd head to Croatia. Bosnia was nice. The food there was pretty good.

"Every place has a thing to offer. It's kind of what you make it."

The life of a professional basketballer is not always as alluring as it sounds.

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With only limited import spots on a roster, their contract can be quickly terminated if they fail to deliver on court. In some countries, teams run into financial strife and overseas professionals are sometimes not paid what they are promised.

Jones has managed to avoid those problems over his six-year career.

"I've been pretty lucky. I think I've got a good percentage of all my money. Sometimes you get horror stories that happen unfairly. For the most part, they give you a chance."

Jones said his advice to young American basketballers embarking on a professional career, was to remember it was a job.

They needed to treat it like any other vocation and be committed to their craft.

"Every day is different. One day, everything could be perfect. The next day, it could be totally different.

"As long as you work hard and stay at an even keel, you'll be right."

Jones and the Rams take on Waikato at Cowles Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is at 3.30pm.

- The Press

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