Paul Goriss is set to realise a WNBA coaching dream, with the Canberra Capitals mentor poised to leave his post at the end of the season to take a chance in the United States.
The Canberra Times can reveal the two-time WNBL championship-winning coach will leave the Capitals at the end of the season for an assistant coaching job in the WNBA on a two-year deal.
The WNBA franchise is expected to announce its Goriss deal as part of a new-look coaching staff this week, after beating a lucrative offer from China in the race to his signature.
Now Goriss is determined to close out a successful chapter in Canberra with a third WNBL title before he packs his bags for the chance of a lifetime.
"I got a message from my agent at 3am in the morning. It was just weird that I was awake. Was it premonition? I don't know what it was," Goriss said.
"I was already awake and when he messaged to say 'we're getting something today', then obviously I wasn't going back to sleep. I was lying in bed and heard the phone go off with an email. It was either 4.13am or 4.16am, I got the email saying 'you're successful, we want you to come'.
"That was a whirlwind day of excitement, nerves, not knowing what to do because I got another job offer later that day. I had two offers on the line within one day which came out of nowhere so some big decisions had to be made.
"For me, the WNBA was a no-brainer for my progression and to keep learning as a coach."
The Capitals, who thrashed Southside 106-64 to fire another warning shot on Saturday night, have three regular season games remaining before the WNBL playoffs, with Goriss to head to the United States after the finals series.
A move to the bright lights of the WNBA caps off a stunning rise for a man who jokes he became a coach by accident.
Guilt-tripped into coaching his brother's team, Goriss reckons, when he was a 17-year-old shooting by himself and they were 14-year-old's running around on another court without any direction.
Over time he found himself coaching Townsville representative teams and the Australian under 19s before taking the reins at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence.
Then the Capitals came calling. Goriss landed his first WNBL head coaching role ahead of the 2016-17 season. Three years later the Australian Opals assistant had two championships to his name, and now the Capitals find themselves in the hunt for another.
Telling his playing group he was going to enact a get-out clause to take a coaching job overseas was the hardest part. Because it's not the championship banners hanging from the University of Canberra gym that drive Goriss, it's his players.
"That's life I guess, in professional sport you can't be around forever," Goriss said.
"I think it's time for them to be able to have a new face, fresh ideas and a new voice. You don't want to be here too long.
"I'd love to keep coaching the Caps forever and be a coach for as long as what [Carrie Graf] was and continue to do great things, but I think I've come here and done the job I wanted to do and needed to do for the club. I helped the club get back to being respected in that top echelon and we won two championships.
"It wasn't just me, it was the help of the players. I came in, we had that 13-game losing streak and we won it the next year. A huge contributing factor to that was [Marianna] Tolo and [Kelsey] Griffin. They've been the backbone of us being successful over the past couple of years.
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"I haven't had much time to reflect, I will more so at the end of the season because we've still got business to do. We've got games left and then finals coming up, I'm not getting too melancholy with it all and thinking about the good old days, but I do reflect on what I've been able to achieve in changing the culture and recruiting the right people to make us a respected program.
"I've ticked the box in that regard but I wouldn't have been able to do it without the players we've recruited here, they've been very special."
Think Griffin and Tolo. Think imports like Kia Nurse, Olivia Epoupa, Britt Sykes and Kaili McLaren. Think rising stars like Abby Cubillo, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci and Jade Melbourne.
They all helped the rebuild the program "the right way". Goriss hopes that will be his legacy when he leaves Canberra next month.
How sweet it would be to board that plane with a third championship ring.
"I think the first one was special because as a head coach it was my first," Goriss said.
"You never think it's possible, especially after we had that 13-game losing streak season. We blew up the team and started again.
"I'll still never forget going out in the grand final series in game three against Adelaide, walking through the tunnel and hearing the crowd. I got goosebumps.
"The second one was just as special because we had to do it the hard way. I don't think we had as much talent in the second year and we had a lot of injuries to deal with. That was a lot harder to get to, and winning in two was even better.
"Hopefully we make some more memories this season and finish with another championship."
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