JUST over two years ago, Trent McMullan was helping the Australian under-17 basketball team to a silver medal performance at the FIBA world championships in Dubai.
Now he's getting ready for another big game – the TAC Cup grand final.
McMullan switched to football in the months after that memorable playoff against the United States basketball team, drawing praise from then-Murray Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier after his inclusion in the squad of 41 at the start of last year.
While it took him a while to adapt to the rigours of footy, McMullan has seized his opportunities with both hands.
The versatile tall has kicked 36 goals in 24 games across two seasons, with almost half of his goals coming in just nine games this year.
McMullan said his prior experience in basketball came in handy as he made the switch from the court to the field.
“It certainly helped from a professionalism standpoint,” he said.
“But at the end of the day they’re two different sports.
I'm really excited for the group as a whole, we've got a great bunch of guys right through the extended squad.
“This weekend will be one of the biggest games I’ve ever played in, so that experience (in Dubai) will be something I’ll draw on in terms of my preparation.”
For most of the team, McMullan included, the chance to play on Etihad Stadium in the club’s first grand final since their win in 2008.
“We’re really excited for this weekend, I personally can’t wait,” he said.
“Running out onto Etihad for a big game is something you always want to do as a player.
“I'm really excited for the group as a whole, we've got a great bunch of guys right through the extended squad.
“Hopefully we can get a win and acknowledge the work the guys who played a role for us during the year have done.”
With extensive travel requirements part of the territory for the Bushies, McMullan said many of the top-age players simply wanted to enjoy what would most likely be their final outing for the club.
“We all get around each other, particularly the guys who travel from Albury-Wodonga and get the bus down to training a couple of times a week all season,” he said.
“We’ll try and soak up a bit of the atmosphere this weekend.
“We want to enjoy this weekend, but when it comes down to it we’re ready to give our best on the field.”
McMullan is one of three Wodonga Bulldogs regularly playing for the Bushies, the others being Isaac Wallace and Mason Marr.
McMullan said seeing Wallace return from a broken leg last year to eventually be elevated into the club’s leadership group had helped him best his own injury troubles.
“Isaac’s attitude is what makes him a true professional,” he said.
“It’s been great to watch how he goes about it, it gives you confidence you can come back and have an impact.”