Star Tamika Catchings might be getting all the attention, but it was a career playoff best performance from Australian Erin Phillips that helped the Indiana Fever collect their first WNBA championship in club history on Sunday night.
Catchings dropped a game-high 25 points to go along with eight assists, but Phillips led the rest of the team throughout the series and on the night with 18 points, after key forward Katie Douglas fell to injury during the deciding game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
An Olympian in 2008 with the Australian Opals, Phillips stepped up bang home three three-pointers and grab eight rebounds in a coming out series for the 27-year-old. After initially coming off the bench in the opening part of the regular season, Phillips more than doubled her regular season scoring output (6.1 ppg) in the Finals as a full-time starter and finished the four game series averaging 13.5 points per game, three rebounds and two assists.
Indiana was dominant in the first three games of the series and Phillips helped the Fever get off to a quick start in game four by scoring six early points and in doing so became the fourth Australian to win a WNBA championship after Lauren Jackson, Tully Bevilaqua and Penny Taylor.
The WNBA title was also a big moment in the career of Catchings; her CV was missing that fine detail. After having missed out of the 2009 championship after leading the series 2-1, Catchings finally added the title to list that already includes three Olympic gold medals and an NCAA championship at Tennessee in 1998. She was awarded the Finals MVP trophy.
Phillips was glad to have had a strong playoffs for the Fever after being snubbed for the Opals team in London earlier this year.
"It's a huge relief," Phillips told the ESPN website.
"It definitely was a very tough year for me personally with the national team.
"But the sacrifice that I made with them was to stay here and prepare to try to win a WNBA championship."
Coach sounded pretty happy too.
"I thought Erin Phillips had one hell of a series," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said.
"You've got to have somebody other than your star player stepping up.
"Phillips was consistently a player that made plays, and that's what the finals are about."
Crave has Australian sport covered.
Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.