Ervin craves crunch-time Sandpit moment

BASKETBALL

Adelaide import Gary Ervin wants the ball in his hands if tomorrow's stoush with the Hawks is tight in crunch time.

Ervin, who starred with Wollongong in his 2011 debut NBL season, already hit a couple of game-winning shots against the New Zealand Breakers and Cairns this season.

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Confident without being cocky, he has never shied away from the big moment.

"That's never going to change," Ervin said.

"That's something I've been doing since high school. I was able to hit game-winners in college and as a pro, so it's just been a blessing to have that confidence in myself and for people to have confidence in me to be that guy to take that last shot."

One of the NBL's most successful clubs with four titles, Adelaide are enduring a miserable run - they failed to reach the play-offs for seven years and finished with the wooden spoon in three of the past four seasons.

All that looks like changing under first-year coach Joey Wright, who steered Brisbane to the 2007 championship and the NBL's all-time best regular-season record (28-5).

The Sixers are second on the ladder with a 13-6 record and appear to be the best equipped to challenge title favourites Perth.

First they have to get past a desperate Wollongong and Ervin doesn't expect a free pass in his return to his old stamping ground.

"They're always a danger game, not just because they're a team that's desperate," the 30-year-old guard said.

"From playing with those guys, there was always games people didn't think we were going to be in, that we actually won, so it's always the same with them. They're a talented team. They have great shooters, they spread you out, they play switching defence.

"They played us great at home twice, almost to the wire. Whenever you have great shooters like that, they're always going to be in the game.

"They've got a great coach in Gordie (McLeod) and guys who believe in that system."

Ervin was a standout with the Hawks, joining Mike Jones (1981) as the only NBL MVPs in the club's 35-year history.

He continues to be one of the league's elite players.

"Overall, I think this has been one of my best years across the board," he said.

"We've got a balanced attack and that makes it a lot easier. There's no pressure on me to go out and score 30. But scoring doesn't really tell the story. We're winning games and that's the biggest thing.

"It's a bunch of guys with the same mentality. We're all hard-nosed and we play a certain way and get out in transition. That's what's made us the team we are.

"The city and the people have been really good. They've been supporting us like crazy."

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