Shawn Marion sat on the sidelines at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Arizona cheering as his New Zealand Breakers came close to an historic upset of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.
As part of the ownership group that took over the Kiwi ANBL franchise in February, the 2011 NBA champion admits he played his part in getting the Breakers included in the preseason crossover matches between ANBL and NBA teams.
The Breakers were one of five teams to meet NBA opposition in recent weeks, and Marion told the Herald he wanted to see the crossover continue and include all eight ANBL teams.
"It just opens some doors for the NBL," Marion said.
"When they see how good a product we have here and what we're doing and what we're trying to do, and how consistent it's been for quite some time now, why not make it bigger and better?"
In 10 preseason matches between ANBL and NBA teams in the past two seasons, six of the ANBL's eight teams have faced off against at least one NBA opponent. Only the Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks were yet to be involved.
The match in Arizona was Marion's first look at his new team in action. He said the team impressed in the 91-86 loss and should take confidence out of that into the ANBL season.
"I loved the energy we left on the floor. I think we were a little intimidated at first, but once we got comfortable and got loose we started playing some good ball.
"You always give yourself a chance when you leave it on the floor. That's what I believe in."
The four-time NBA all-star will get his first taste of the ANBL regular season when the Breakers begin their campaign in Auckland against Mika Vukona's Brisbane Bullets on Thursday night.
The Bullets look to have built a formidable roster which included former NBA players Alonzo Gee (six teams including the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls), as well as New Zealand stars Vukona and Reuben Te Rangi.