THE celebrations have finally ended and Erin Phillips is ready for the next challenge – winning a spot on the Opals roster for the Beijing Olympics, writes Scott Gullan for The Daily Telegraph.
It's fair to say the 22-year-old Adelaide Lightning point guard enjoys a challenge. The past 12 months have thrown up more than most have in an entire career.
On January 20 last year Phillips changed direction while playing against Canberra and blew her knee out. "It was shattering," she recalled yesterday.
The previous year had been her best, as she was part of the Opals team that won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and world championships.
After 10 months of rehabilitation, Phillips returned to the WNBL and then played a key role in Adelaide winning its first championship for a decade.
That also didn't go to script with the Lightning suffering a shock loss to Sydney at home in the first major semi-final, breaking a long winning streak.
It then beat Dandenong before travelling to Wollongong where it got revenge on the Flames and captured the title.
"That was the first grand final I have ever played in for Adelaide after seven seasons," Phillips said.
"It was really good to finally be in it, be involved instead of sitting on the couch watching on TV.
"The team had just been through so much adversity at the start of the season so really the win reflected our professionalism and hard work."
A minor "clean-out" operation on her knee a couple of weeks ago put celebrations on hold briefly.
Though there have been a few big nights since, Phillips is now ready to put her head down again and ensure she is wearing an Australian singlet in four months.
"From now onwards it is full on," she said. "We have a camp at the AIS in Canberra on April 2 and then a team will be picked for a tour to China.
"Then after that it is a string of camps and tours so really you've just got to keep your head above water right up until the final selection."
Phillips, whose father Greg was a footballer with Port Adelaide and Collingwood, averaged 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in her comeback season but knows there is plenty of improvement still to come.
"I still think they were below par for what I am capable of," she said.
"I was really happy just to have no real hiccups."