Ennis to shoot higher for Cats
Ennis to shoot higher for Cats

Perth Wildcats star James Ennis is primed and ready to explode during the NBL play-offs after stamping himself as a leading MVP candidate during an outstanding rookie season.

The Wildcats host Wollongong in game one of their best-of-three semifinal series at Perth Arena on Friday night, with more than 12,000 fans set to pack the venue and create an intimidating atmosphere for the visitors.

Ennis has fed off the energy from the stands throughout the season and delivered a long highlights reel with his exciting brand of basketball, complete with a vast array of slam dunks.

He ranks third in the league with an average of 21.5 points per game, fourth with an average of seven rebounds, second with 40 steals and made more free throws (140) than any other player.

Miami Heat's second-round draft pick is effectively on loan to the Wildcats this season and will return to the US next month to chase a spot in the world's premier competition.

But he still has a few games left to leave his mark on Perth.

Wildcats veteran Shawn Red- hage expected his high-flying teammate to take his game to a new level during the play-offs.

"He's a big-time player and when the big games come, those guys tend to step up," Redhage said.

"We've seen that all through the year and he's played well in the big games when we've needed him to. I expect him to have a great finals campaign and hopefully cap off the season with a championship."

Ennis and fellow American import Jermaine Beal have been the poster boys for the Wildcats this season, but the team's focus has been on playing an unselfish brand of basketball.

Redhage said the side always came first and that mentality would have to remain if the Wildcats were to claim the championship this season.

"As great as James has been and as great as Jermaine has been, it's been about the team," Redhage said.

"We've had some great performances.

"Damo (Martin) has played outstanding all year, Jesse (Wagstaff) has come in and Matty (Knight) is getting fit at the right time of the year.

"We've had guys step up this year when other guys have been down.

"We can't just give the ball to James and let him do his thing because defences are too good.

"We have to play as a team and give the guys the ball in the right situations."

Game two of the semifinal series will be played in Wollongong on Sunday, with a third game in Perth next Tuesday if a decider is required.

… he's played well in the big games when we've needed him to."Shawn Redhage

The West Australian

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