THE Cockburn Cougars open their 2019 season at home on Saturday night coinciding with championship-winning point guard Seva Chan celebrating 200 SBL games but he does so with a heavy heart while also comforted knowing his father will be keenly watching on.
Chan pinches himself somewhat knowing that he is about to play his 200th game in the SBL on Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium against Willetton knowing he has only just turned 25.
He’s crammed a lot into those 199 games as well including being part of the 2012 championship winning team having made his debut with six brief appearances as a 16-year-old in 2010.
While he did spend the 2015 season at Kalamunda and 2016 with Lakeside, it’s Cockburn that is home for Chan and at 25, he’s just entering the prime years as a point guard.
And as far as all-round point guards go, there’s few better in the SBL with his ability to run his team’s offence well, taking care of the ball and creating for his teammates. He’s also shooting the three ball at over 34 per cent on his career and can take on a scoring load when the Cougars need it.
So while he is entering his 10th official SBL season, it’s fair to suggest the best of Chan is still ahead of him as he now prepares to celebrate the 200-game mark on his home floor.
What the milestone provides is the chance for Chan to reflect on those who helped him get to this point and there’s nobody for him to be more thankful to than his father.
Tragically he recently passed away and Saturday will be his first regular season game played without his dad there, but he knows he’ll still be watching and breaking down his performance.
“The biggest influence would have to be my Dad. Dad has been with me every step of the way, taking me to trainings and games, rebounding and coaching and pushing me to train every single day. I wouldn’t be here without him,” Chan said.
“Sadly, Dad passed away a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure he will still be watching all my games, videoing them and breaking them down for me later when I see him up there.”
With his father there all the way, Chan’s first basketball idol was Perth Wildcats legend Ricky Grace.
To be coached by the ‘Amazing’ one as he was developing his basketball is something he will cherish forever while his early Cockburn influences Grant Davey and Stephen Charlton have left a lasting impression.
“I was significantly influenced very early on by Ricky Grace. I am the same age as his son Jerami and so Ricky coached the team for two years in U/14 WABL. Playing the same position as the Amazing Grace, I learnt an incredible amount about the game from him,” Chan said.
“Grant Davey has been massive for me, he was my coach from U/16s after Ricky left and helped guide me through the SBL scene. Being the captain of the team as well, Grant’s provided constant leadership and support even to now.
“Charlie (Stephen Charlton) was my first SBL coach. He put a lot of trust in me at a young age and gave me the opportunities at the right time. Playing under Charlie and winning a championship showed me the mentality needed to go all the way at this level.”
Saturday night now not only is a naturally big occasion as the SBL season-opener for the Cougars, but it means the world to Chan to get to celebrate 200 games in the league on his home floor in front of many of the people that have helped him get to where he is.
“For sure! Happy to share it with the people who have supported me,” Chan said.
“It means a huge amount. I actually did not know it was coming until the start of this week so it was a nice surprise. Still finding it hard to believe that I’m hitting the milestone at 25 years old.
“I grew up watching SBL and dreamt of playing in the SBL when I was a kid, I never would have thought that I would hit 200 games. It has been an awesome time to get to this point and I am just enjoying playing the game. Looking forward to continuing to play in the years to come.
“There’s been heaps of ups and downs in the last 199 games, and memorable experiences I will never forget. I still remember stepping on the court for the first time, playing my first ever game which was 16 seconds like it was yesterday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this season. I think we have a great group of guys that will be able to get it done. Will be pushing teams each week for sure.”
Now as much as Chan is looking forward to celebrating his 200-game milestone on Saturday, his focus is on the overall health of the team and he’s looking forward to what 2019 can hold for the Cougars.
Despite an injury ravaged squad, the Cougars narrowly missed playoffs in 2018 and now Chan is hopeful they can get back there again in 2019 buoyed by the arrivals of Hayden Bell, Mitch Hampson and Matt Vinci with the import still yet to be revealed.
Chan already has one championship with the Cougars in 2012 but missed out in 2016 when he was at Lakeside. He was happy for Cockburn to get that glory but desperately wants to taste the ultimate again himself.
“Team went through hard time with injuries last year and we narrowly missed out on the playoffs. Very confident we will make it this year. Each year people don’t expect much from us but we keep finding ways to surprise teams,” Chan said.
“Everyone has really bought in to the team culture and another year under Adam is always going to be a huge plus. New additions of Belly, Vinci and Mitch fit us perfectly. Can’t wait to see what the import will bring to the team!
“I’m really happy for the guys for what they achieved. No regrets here, I learnt a lot and gained valuable experiences and friendships that season. Will always have a constant fire to win and take away another chip. Would love to do it again in the Cougar colours.”
As for his role as point guard and the continued growth of his all-round game, Chan takes pride in being one of the best two-way players in his position in the league.
On top of that, the progression from young player on that 2012 team to now being one of the more seasoned players by 2019 has been quite a quick transition considering he’s still only 25.
“Definitely, playing the PG position my whole life with great mentors along the way is something I take pride in Defence is also another big one and guarding my man one-on-one, making it as difficult as I can for him to make a shot,” he said.
“As a young guy trying to break into the league, you will always be starting off with spot minutes off the bench here and there. I really enjoyed this opportunity as I knew I could go hard and give my all in these few minutes and hopefully make a difference on both ends of the floor, knowing that a sub would be coming.
“Now being the starting point guard for the last few years and having that greater responsibility and trust from coach is all part of the game and I am enjoying the ride. It’s been great playing with the guys that we have and playing under Adam for the third year in a row, everyone is all on the same page and understands their role and responsibilities even more.”
While Chan doesn’t regret his seasons at Lakeside or Kalamunda, it’s Cockburn that’s always home for him now and he can’t see himself playing anywhere else the rest of his SBL career.
“My experience with Lakeside and the Suns were fantastic and I have nothing but positive things to say about the clubs,” Chan said.
“Growing up a Cockburn junior, the Cougars have always felt like home. The family culture and history that the club has is really special. Being one of the oldest clubs, there have been numerous players who have come through and stepped on the court.
“The wall is nearly full from 200 game life members, the guys that have retired you still see around the club watching games and bringing their kids to games. All the families involved and the open atmosphere the club gives is really special.”