After a tough season in 2023 and an eventful period, Cockburn Cougars point guard Seva Chan is as hungry and motivated as ever to hit back hard in the 2024 NBL1 West season and to especially make the most of playing alongside Gavin Field for one last year.
Chan has well and truly proven himself one of the best playmaking point guards in the league over the course of his 275-game career on top of being a tremendous defender, and all-round terrific club man.
While he had a frustrating 2023 season with injury, the high esteem he’s held in was highlighted when he signed his first professional contract after the campaign.
That came as a pleasant surprise to the 29-year-old and while he is disappointed it won’t come to fruition when the club, the Bay Area Dragons, ended up folding denying him the chance to play under Australian Boomers coach Brian Goorjian, he’s quickly recommitted to focusing on the Cougars in 2024.
The combination of wanting to bounce back from an injury-interrupted season, to make sure Field’s final season is a special one and to be a key part of leading Cockburn back to a playoff position all meant that it was an easy decision for Chan to decide to return.
“A couple of teams reached out which I am grateful for and it’s nice to feel wanted, but it’s hard to leave a club that I’ve played for since I first started at 10-year-old,” Chan said.
“It was a tough year not just for me but the team as a whole, I don’t think I’ve been a part of a team that has had so many injuries in the one season, I think we only had Courtney and Taj play out all the games.
“For me, I completely tore my AITFL and was out for the majority of the season. Definitely frustrating after coming off one of my best years in 2022 and was looking to build on that this year.
“I am feeling 100 per cent now with rehab and physio getting me back to where I need to be.”
While Chan wasn’t necessarily expecting a change in coach at the Cougars for 2024 with the departure of Andrew Cooper, he’s looking forward to playing under Mark Clayden and in the end, once Field decided to play on again, he was always coming back too.
“I had a good relationship with Coops and he helped me a lot with my progression over the last few years. I wish him, Damo and the rest of the guys nothing but the best moving forward,” he said.
“Gav was definitely a huge factor in my decision to stay, obviously he’s announced that its his last year and we’ve played together for over 10 years now so being able to be out there on the court with him for his last year will be pretty meaningful and special.”
When you’ve already had the career like Chan has had and are nearing 30 years of age, it’s not always easy to find new experiences but that’s exactly what happened when he signed a professional contract for the first time for the 2023/24 season.
That was to play with the Bay Area Dragons who were based in Hong Kong and played in the East Asia Super League and Philippine Basketball Association while coached by Australian basketball legend, and current Boomers coach Brian Goorjian.
Unfortunately for Chan, the team disbanded before the season started and that meant his professional basketball dream didn’t come to fruition.
Despite the potential of playing elsewhere in South Asia, he decided to refocus on his life at home in Perth and preparing for the 2024 NBL1 West season.
“It was a surreal experience for sure! Was super excited and it was a huge shock getting the news that it wasn’t going ahead after all the preparation and build up from Cam first reaching out to me in November 2022,” Chan said.
“Especially being able to play for a coach like Goorjian and Billy Tomlinson, legends of Australian Basketball was something I was really looking forward to and learn off them but yeah just super disappointed it wasn’t able to go ahead in the end.
“I’m pretty lucky to be able to go back to my career in Perth as an Occupational Therapist and life is still good and makes me grateful for what I still have here. Although I did get other opportunities overseas in Malaysia and potentially Taiwan, it is hard to weigh up the pros and cons at this point in my life at nearly 30 years old, stable career and newly married, priorities changed a little bit.
“I definitely would have been keen to go if these opportunities presented themselves five plus years ago. Super grateful to Goorj, Billy and Cam Bairstow for reaching out and finding me. It also says a lot about the NBL1 and shows that you never know who is watching the games and how the respect and recognition of the league is growing.”
While Chan is now 275 games into his NBL1 career and has been playing since making his debut in 2010, the fact he is yet to even turn 30 means that he very much is still in the prime of his career physically and has plenty left in the tank.
That’s only highlighted by the fact that he just signed a professional contract for the first time, so the version of Chan that will be returning to the Cougars in 2024 will be a fully healthy and motivated one, and a championship for him again is the ultimate goal.
“The years are going by quick! Still feels like a week ago that I stepped on the court for the first time back in 2010,” he said.
“I’m only 29 still so I feel like I have a lot left in the tank with many more years to come. A championship is definitely something I want to experience again, the opportunity doesn’t come around often and always need a bit of luck to make it to the big dance so hopefully that can happen as a send off for Gav next season too!
“But always grateful to be able to play this game and gives me the opportunity to stay healthy, motivated and connected socially with good mates. Definitely staying healthy and contributing on the court in whatever way is required to get the team a win is the goal for next season.”
Now that he is committed to returning next year and planning is beginning for the 2024 season, Chan is already excited for what it holds and to embrace one last season with Field in every way possible.
“Hopefully staying healthy and being out there with Gav for his last year,” Chan said.
“We also have a few guys coming back and some new faces so getting to know the guys and reconnecting with everyone and hopefully it can lead to some wins and we are in the mix come finals!”