Redhage shoots for fourth NBL ring before entering SBL
SHAWN Redhage is in the back end of his NBL career as the Perth Wildcats prepare to do battle in the semi finals with the Cairns Taipans, but he is as focused as ever to end on the ultimate high before joining the Redbacks for the 2017 SBL season.
Redhage will go down as an all-time great at the Wildcats with his career having already included three championships, an equal club record six MVP awards and 375 games to be only second behind Ricky Grace.
The 36-year-old has announced that the 2016/17 season will be his last in the NBL but he is far from finished on the basketball court and will line-up with the Perth Redbacks in 2017 for his first stint in the SBL.
There's still plenty of water to go under the bridge before Redhage pulls on his boots at Belmont, but he would love nothing more than to be doing as a four-time NBL championship winner.
The Wildcats first have to get past the Taipans while winning at least one game in Cairns before facing either the Adelaide 36ers or Illawarra Hawks in the grand final, but Redhage has no doubt they are up for the challenge.
"We have a lot of work ahead of ourselves to get there but that's the ultimate way to go out as a player so that's what we are working towards," Redhage said.
"It's a different challenge. In the years when we've had success we have had home-court advantage so for us and a number of guys who have been here a while, we look at this as a huge challenge and a huge opportunity to prove that we can have success no matter what position you finish.
"Not having home-court advantage is tough but we like how we are playing and the way we are playing going into the finals."
By making the NBL finals again, the Wildcats have taken part in a remarkable 31 straight playoff series'.
Redhage will retire knowing he has never missed post-season action his entire career with the 'Cats. That is something he is proud of and while they had to get there the hard way by beating the Sydney Kings and Melbourne United, he feels they are playing their best basketball of the season now.
"It is something to be proud of with the Wildcats. In all honesty I didn’t really know about the streak when I first came here, but it is something you are proud to have been part of and you take pride in knowing that you played a part in some of the success that the club has had," he said.
"It was tense and no one was really helping us out in those other games in that final week so we knew that we were in a position where we were still in control of our own destiny in some ways.
"You'd want it that way but we had two tough games with Sydney fighting for survival and Melbourne don’t lose too many times at home. It was a great feeling to get that win in Melbourne to give us a bit of momentum going into the playoffs."
With the arrival of dynamic guard Bryce Cotton, Casey Prather getting back to his top form and captain Damian Martin back and leading from the front defensively, Redhage couldn’t be happier with the form of the Wildcats heading into the series with the Snakes.
"We've talked all season about trying to play our best basketball by this time of the year. Obviously getting everyone healthy helps that, and Damo is back and Casey is back to his usual self and the same with Matty Knight," Redhage said.
"When you are missing those guys or they're not 100 per cent, they are big keys and then adding Bryce into his role and I like how we are coming together at the right time of the year."
Redhage might not be playing the minutes that he once did to earn the 'Scoring Machine' moniker for the sheer numbers he would up in his prime, but he will take great pride in knowing that he is retiring still playing well.
Every time he hits the floor Redhage is making a strong contribution and he is just happy to be playing his role for the team.
"For me it felt like it was the right time to retire and I'm happy with the decision, but it's a different role I'm playing and it's tough going from one role to another one. But within this group you have to try and be the best version of yourself within that role to help the team," he said.
"There's definitely pride anytime you take the court whether it's for a couple of minutes or longer stretches to make sure you have an impact. You just try and make the most of the opportunities you get and do a little thing here or there to help your team win."
Once the NBL season is over and Redhage has taken some time to recuperate, he will turn his attention to his first time playing in the SBL under Nik Lackovic and alongside old Wildcats teammate Joel Wagner at the Redbacks.
Given he hasn’t been paying a lot of minutes this NBL season and he is still feeling like he has some game left and miles in his body, Redhage wanted to keep playing and given Perth will always be his home for the foreseeable future, the SBL just made a lot of sense.
"It's one of those things where I think it's a good opportunity where I can still use my experience and influence that I've learned throughout my career on some of the younger guys while still being able to play basketball instead of giving it up altogether," he said.
"I looked at it as a good opportunity. I always wanted to play in the SBL at some point in my career and the competitor inside me wants to go out there and play. I still love to play so I felt like my NBL days were done, but it's a nice way to transition into my next stage."
While playing in the SBL was something Redhage wanted to do, working out which club to join was the next problem but the Redbacks just made sense for a whole lot of reasons.
"There was a number of factors. I ran into Nik Lackovic and he gave me a little insight into their program and they were going to be training at Hale School which is just down the road from where I live as well," Redhage said.
"I obviously know Joel having been teammates of his for a couple of years here at the Wildcats so I looked at it as a new challenge. I'm excited about the opportunity."