Fighting all odds to taste success

Only 29, Seebohm has now coached Australia's U17s to a world championship and - following last week's thrilling victory over Japan at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium – the U16s to an Asian title.

In 2015, Shannon Seebohm was named the WNBL's Coach of the Year for leading the Sydney Uni Flames to the playoffs in his rookie season.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

While his players celebrated their FIBA U-16 women's Asian basketball championship win, with confetti falling and rap blaring out of a portable speaker, Shannon Seebohm stood quietly to one side with the rest of his staff.

He felt simply fortunate to be here, Australia's coach said. He felt fortunate every day. Only 29, Seebohm has now coached Australia's U17s to a world championship and - following last week's thrilling victory over Japan at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium – the U16s to an Asian title.

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“I've just been really fortunate to have some great people help me along the way,” he said after the final on Saturday. “It's the first time Australia's been to this tournament. So it means a lot. These girls are still very young but I could easily see a few of them playing for the senior national team.”

It wasn't that long ago, though, that Seebohm was seen as a bright prospect himself. After turning out for Australia's U19s, he was plying his trade with South Dragons in the country's National Basketball League when his life changed forever.

Seebohm collapsed in training one day and had to be placed in an induced coma after being rushed to the hospital. Doctors feared he may never wake up but Seebohm survived. Had a friend not performed CPR on the court, things could have been far worse.

Seebohm had a cardiac defibrillator implanted and was told his playing career was over. He was only 19. After a couple of jobs outside basketball, Seebohm - second cousin of Olympic swimmer Emily - took up coaching. There has since been no looking back.

In 2015, he was named the WNBL's Coach of the Year for leading the Sydney Uni Flames to the playoffs in his rookie season. A year later, his U-17s won the women's world championship.

“I've just been extremely blessed,” Seebohm said. “Really lucky. One to be here, and two to be in the position I'm in now where I get to do something that I love every day, work with great athletes like this. I just feel really fortunate to be in this position.”

On Saturday, Australia trailed Japan by nine points at half-time, with the deficit at one stage 13. “It took our girls a whole half to adjust to the pace of the game,” he admitted. “We talked at half-time about some adjustments.”

Going into the final quarter, Australia had slashed Japan's lead to three. As the clock ticked down, Seebohm's side drew level before nosing ahead. When the buzzer went, Australia had won by one point.