Basketball: Lascelles up for `biggest night'

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The Independent Online
AMID THE hype of All Star Americans, Most Valuable Player awards and the welter of stats surrounding the potential mis-match at tonight's Uni-ball League Trophy Final at the NEC, one player brings a truly unique quality to the game, writes Richard Taylor.

The Derby Storm veteran Tim Lascelles is the Budweiser League's All-Time Most Loyal Player, having made 385 appearances for that one club since his debut against Colchester in November 1984.

Tonight the Storm face the overwhelming favourites Manchester Giants in the first final in the club's history and in the 34-year-old Lascelles' 15-year career. This season has already put him in the top 10 for league appearances and Lascelles said: "I have stuck with Derby through thick and thin and always had the aim of getting to at least one major final with the team. It's just unfortunate that when we finally made it the circumstances are the ones we find ourselves in tonight."

Unfortunate is an understatement. Derby face the league leaders without the American Rico Alderson and the England international Yorick Williams, banned following the brawl at Chester, while the 6ft 11in centre Nick Donovan has now been ruled out by a knee injury.

"The fans feel there is no justice and its frustrating because the city of Derby has waited a long time for a night like this," said Lascelles. "It's certain that no one expects us to win, but this is the biggest night in the club's history and we've got to play hard and go for it."