After yesterday revealing those ranked 6-10 in the top 10 moments of Australian basketball for 2016, today we take a look at the top 5.
For those of you who missed part 1, here is a quick recap:
10. Liz Cambage’s dominant performance against Japan at the Rio Olympics
9. Record number of Australians in the NBA
8. Patty Mills’ Rio Olympic campaign
7. The legitimacy of the NBL
6. Michele Timms inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame
Without further ado, here are the top 5 moments of a thrilling and history-making 2016 for Australian basketball.
5. Matthew Dellavedova gets a ring, big contract and a shoe deal
2016 was quite the year for Matthew Dellavedova. Instead of just one moment, his entire year needs to be celebrated.
He collected a ring with the Cleveland Cavaliers – the city’s first major Championship in 52 years! Playing a key role off the bench for the Cavs throughout the season, Delly was absolutely a fan favourite in Cleveland and his teammates loved him too. When he received his ring earlier this month, he was mobbed by his ex-teammates.
In the off-season, Delly cashed in on his 2015/16 season and signed a $38.4 million deal with the Bucks. As if getting a huge contract, winning an NBA Championship and being a stand-out on the Boomers team in Rio wasn’t enough, he also got his first signature shoe with PEAK.
There were delays in Dellavedova lacing up his PEAK Delly 1 on-court, but finally wore them in-game in November.
4. Sapphires win the U17s World Championship
The Sapphires showed just how bright the future of Australian basketball is when they won the U17 World Championship in July. The Sapphires beat USA to earn a place in the Final, and in doing so, dealt USA their first loss in U17 World Championship history.
The Final saw the Aussies absolutely dominate Italy and earn the gold medal!
The Aussies didn’t just win the World Championship, they had three players named to the All-Star Five. Ezi Magbegor, Jasmine Simmons and Monique Conti were all recognised for their brilliant performances throughout the tournament. Magbegor was also named MVP of the Championships.
A truly magical run by the young Aussies!
3. Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor retire
Perhaps the two best Australian players ever; Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor, retired earlier this year. Both have been cornerstones for the Opals for well over a decade, and their respective WNBA careers were incredible.
These two legends of Australian basketball showed pride every single time they pulled on the green and gold, and provided countless Aussies with inspiration to follow their hoop dreams.
Penny Taylor’s final game in Phoenix provided fans the opportunity to say #ThankYouPenny.
Australian women’s basketball will never be the same without these two stars. Thanks for the memories, ladies.
2. Two Aussies selected in the top 10 of the 2016 NBA Draft
When the 2016 NBA Draft came around, Ben Simmons was basically a shoe-in to be selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first pick. That went as planned.
What came as a surprise was Thon Maker being selected by the Bucks with the 10th overall pick. Whilst many had him touted as a first-round pick, he was the mystery man heading into the draft.
The Bucks were set on drafting Maker as they ‘fell in love with him’.
The magnitude of having two Australians drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft is simply huge. It truly showcases just how strong basketball is becoming in this country and that pathways to the NBA exist.
1. Boomers Olympic run and capturing the hearts of the Australian public
Never before had the Australian public got behind a basketball team like they did during the Boomers magical run in Rio.
Heading into the Olympics, expectations were that this was the best Boomers team to compete at an Olympic Games. In a statement win over France in the first group game, Australia proved to the rest of the world that they meant business.
Unfortunately, the Boomers played their worst game of the tournament in the semi-final against Serbia. The Serbian team dismantled the Boomers and the Aussies were never in the game.
But then, the bronze medal game happened. In a see-sawing affair, the Aussies were up for the battle.
Despite being robbed out of a bronze medal because of that call, the Boomers did Australia proud.
The grit and determination showcased throughout the entire tournament is something worth celebrating and the way each and every player represented Australia on the world stage was inspiring.
The Boomers 2016 Olympic campaign will not be forgotten. That is why the Boomers 2016 Olympic run is the top Australian basketball moment of 2016.
Wheat a year it was for Aussie hoops in 2016. Bring on 2017!