Best Australian basketball moments of 2018

It's that time of the year where we reflect on the year that was. It's fair to say 2018 saw the emergence of Australian basketball superstars, super teams and for basketball fans across the land, it was a year that kept producing highlights.

Here at The Pick and Roll, we've picked our top 10 Australian basketball moments from 2018, in no particular order, and have them all right here in one place. Let the debate begin!

Australian Opals win silver at FIBA Women's World Cup

It was a run that captivated the country and the Opals' 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup campaign was one that showcased the excitement around women's hoops in this country - both in the present and future.

It was the 'Liz Cambage Show' all tournament long as she led the Opals to the Final, where they eventually fell to the USA to claim an incredible silver medal.

Cambage led the tournament in points per game (23.8) and was second in rebounds (10.5). In the semi-final against Spain, Cambage went to another level and stood up when her team needed her most with 33 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks in the dramatic six-point win.

Somehow, she wasn't named MVP of the tournament - we still don't quite understand that one, but she was selected to the All-Star Starting Five.

The likes of young guns Alanna Smith and Ezi Magbegor also showcased just how bright the Opals' future is.

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GOING FOR GOLD 🥇 The Opals will take on USA after handling business against Spain the semi final. We’ve got your highlights! 🇦🇺🏀

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Sep 29, 2018 at 5:28pm PDT

Ben Simmons crowned NBA Rookie of the Year

After sitting out the 2016/17 season because of injury, the hype surrounding Ben Simmons was at fever pitch when he finally made his long-awaited NBA debut.

In his first NBA game - a road game against Washington - Simmons immediately announced himself with a statline of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and just 1 turnover. It was the beginning of a truly otherworldly and record-breaking rookie season for the Victorian.

He recorded his first career triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Detroit) in just his fourth game, joining Oscar Robertson and the Hambone Williams as the only players to record a triple-double within their first four games.

These moments were in 2017, but they set up what was an absolutely breath-taking 2018 for Simmons.

He would go onto set the league alight for the entire season and runaway with NBA Rookie of the Year honours, receiving 90 of a possible 101 first-place votes in the award. Sorry Donovan, it really wasn't a race - as Simmons said earlier this week.

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When someone tries to argue that Ben Simmons shouldn't be rookie of the year...

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on May 21, 2018 at 4:45am PDT

Liz Cambage setting new WNBA single-game scoring record

Well, Liz Cambage returned to the WNBA this year and she did not disappoint. To say she had one of the most dominant seasons in league history isn't a stretch at all.

On July 17, Cambage showcased her full offensive arsenal against the New York Liberty. She had it going all game long and set a new league-record for points scored in a single game; 53(!). It wasn't just the crazy 53 points that she tallied, it was the sheer efficiency of her game too.

53 points on 17/22 shots (4/5 3PT) from the field and 15/16 from the line, to go along with 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 blocks in 37 minutes. And yeah, the record-breaking bucket was a triple.

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THE historic bucket! Absolutely incredible stuff from @ecambage. #53

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Jul 17, 2018 at 3:30pm PDT

She also had games of 43p/13r/3a, 28p/18r, 37p/10r/4a and 35p/17r. Insane. As mentioned above, her World Cup campaign wasn't too shabby either.

Australian Sapphires claim bronze at U-17 World Cup

Prior to the Opals claiming silver at the Women's World Cup, it was our Sapphires who also claimed a medal, in the U-17 Women's World Cup. In what was a great sign for the future of women's basketball in Australia, the young stars shone bright on the world stage, led by Shyla Heal.

Taking on Hungary in the bronze-medal game, the Sapphires roared home - led by 14 fourth-quarter points from Heal - to snatch the victory and the medal.

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BRONZE 🥉 What an effort our Sapphires!! The team brought home bronze in the U17 World Cup overnight, defeating Hungary 57-51! 🇦🇺🏀

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Jul 29, 2018 at 8:16pm PDT

Heal was also named to the All-Star Five.

Melbourne United and Townsville Fire claim respective national league Championships

Melbourne United and the Townsville Fire claimed their respective national league titles in 2018.

For United, it took a five-game thriller against the Adelaide 36ers for them to be crowned Champions of the NBL in what was one of the more fiery NBL Grand Final series in recent memory.

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GOING FOR GOLD 🥇 The Opals will take on USA after handling business against Spain the semi final. We’ve got your highlights! 🇦🇺🏀

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Sep 29, 2018 at 5:28pm PDT

Melbourne superstar Chris Goulding was named Grand Final MVP, while Casey Prather made it three rings in three seasons in Australia.

The Fire handled business against the Melbourne Boomers to claim the WNBL title, led by superstar Suzy Batkovic - who is currently playing in her final WNBL season.

Townsville claimed the crown 2-1 as Batkovic and Liz Cambage battled all series long. In the decider, Batkovic tallied an enormous 28 points and 23 rebounds to lead her team home.

Australia qualify for 2019 FIBA World Cup

The Australian Boomers will be in China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. After a long qualification process - that still isn't complete - the Boomers officially booked their ticket to the World Cup with a win over Iran in November.

Australia qualified with just a single away loss to Japan, and survived the scary and brutal Filipino's in Manila that resulted in a now infamous brawl back in July.

Led by NBL players, the depth of the Boomers squad has been on full display throughout the qualification process and when the FIBA World Cup kicks off in late August 2019, Australia will assemble the best team this country has ever seen.

We've also got the two-game series in August against the USA in Melbourne to look forward to too. The USA will send out plenty of stars for the pre-World Cup match-ups at Marvel Arena and tickets have sold incredibly quickly. There will likely be upwards of 100,000 fans in attendance across the two games.

This. Will. Be. Fun.

Andrew Bogut's arrival in the NBL

Andrew Bogut is in Sydney and has completely transformed the franchise. Announced in late April, the news of Bogut coming home to play in Australia's national league created hype and excitement for a league that was already riding a wave of momentum.

The crowds have come out around the nation to see the big man play and his performance on the court has been impressive to say the least. He is anchoring the Kings' defence and as we head into 2019, Sydney sit atop the NBL ladder.

Australian NBA players continue to go from strength to strength

After long being considered as one of the finest long-range shooters outside of the NBA, Ryan Broekhoff finally broke through and earned himself an NBA contract with the Dallas Mavericks in July.

He has his chance and despite not seeing much court-time yet, he is living out his NBA dream.

With Broekhoff and Jonah Bolden officially joining our other Aussies in the NBA, we have a record nine players plying their trade in the best basketball league in the world.

Behind Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles has a stranglehold on being the second-best Australian in the league, while the likes of Patty Mills and Aron Baynes are absolutely vital pieces to their respective teams.

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A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Oct 20, 2018 at 12:24am PDT

After a struggle for minutes in Milwaukee, Matthew Dellavedova was traded to Cleveland - where he won a Championship in 2016 - in December and has had an immediate impact.

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MVP MVP MVP MVP Delly being back in Cleveland is good for everyone.

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Dec 13, 2018 at 1:28am PST

Boomers and Opals claim Commonwealth Games gold medals

The Boomers and Opals were absolutely dominant at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. Both swept through their respective tournaments undefeated to claim Gold medals.

The Boomers thrashed Canada in the Gold medal game, 87-47, thanks to contributions across the board as seven players scored at least eight points and Chris Goulding led the way with 11.

The Opals also dismantled their opposition in the Gold medal game. Taking on England, Australia jumped out of the blocks and were never troubled, winning 99-55, despite superstar Liz Cambage being ejected.

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When you get ejected but know you're going to win Gold anyway... 😂🥇

A post shared by The Pick and Roll (@pickandrollau) on Apr 15, 2018 at 8:45pm PDT

Kelsey Griffin and Cayla George (16 points each) top-scored for the Opals in the final.

2018 sure was fun, but 2019 promises to be even more exciting. Keep it locked right here on The Pick and Roll for all things Aussie hoops.