Horsham’s Shaun Bruce is eyeing off a return to the NBL after a short stint playing basketball in Asia last month.
Bruce was given a 10-day contract with the Malaysia Dragons in the Southeast Asian Nations Basketball Association to cover an injury to one of their star recruits.
Bruce was flown into Singapore two weeks ago and played the very next day in a big loss to the Singapore Slingers, 101-47.
Bruce said adapting to the style of basketball and playing with a new group of teammates was a challenging experience.
“I was definitely thrown in the deep end,” Bruce said.
“It was a pretty unique experience, but it was also good to learn how to deal with that kind of circumstance.”
Despite the side’s tough loss, Bruce said he was pleased with his personal performance, registering seven points, five rebounds and two assists.
“I thought I did a pretty good job of adapting,” he said. “I would’ve liked to make a few more shots and do a few things better, but under the circumstances I was pretty happy with how things went as a whole.
“Seeing their different playing style was a huge eye-opener and is something I’ve taken a lot from.”
Bruce returned to Queensland last Sunday to resume training with NBL side the Cairns Taipans. Bruce is currently without a contract but is still hopeful of getting onto an NBL roster this season.
“Absolutely the goal is to get back to the NBL,” he said.
“I’ve been training here with the Taipans just to stay in shape and stay sharp in case somebody gets injured or an opportunity comes up anywhere across the league.
“I’m hopeful that something might arise this season, but if not I’m definitely doing all I can to return to the league in 2019.”
There are going to be several extra list spots in the NBL for the 2019-2020 season, with the introduction of new Victorian franchise the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
While Bruce has not had any discussion with the club, he said it would be a “dream come true” to return to Victoria and play for the newly formed club.
“I love what they’re doing and what they’re about, building basketball and the community in south-east Melbourne,” he said.
“If given the opportunity there, I could see myself giving back to the Horsham association as well and that’s something that really excites me – but there’s obviously a lot of things to fall in place before that would happen.”
While returning to the NBL is his main focus, Bruce did not rule-out a return to Victoria if nothing eventuates.
“I’m just in the process now of deciding if I return to the Queensland Basketball League or come back somewhere more locally,” he said.
“The goal is obviously the NBL but I’m just figuring it all out now."