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Davis' funk can be soothed at weekend

As ONE defeat followed another in this largely underwhelming season, Sterling Davis felt himself plummet into a deep funk.

Yet, declares the Glasgow Rocks player-coach, it was his other half who sustained the greatest impact as he piled the weight of the world upon himself.

"I feel bad for my wife more than anything," he reveals. "It's too hard for me to forget about a loss. I don't sleep well. And the next day, I'm in a bad mood. It's a combination of everything and it never ends, especially this year with the way things have gone. Every loss pounds you. It wears you down mentally, and also I've felt it's taken a toll on my body because of the strain."

The 36-year-old bears the wrinkles and the emotional scars acquired since he first landed on these shores over a decade ago as a fresh-faced rookie swapping Texas for an overseas adventure. Yet if his side can lift the BBL Trophy tomorrow and give their player-coach the first piece of silverware of his tenure, there will be instant rejuvenation.

Although they are the underdogs in their bout with Worcester Wolves, the Rocks' hopes have been boosted by the choice of final venue. The Emirates Arena will be decidedly less than neutral, enhancing the hosts' chances of matching the heights of their impressive semi-final defeat of Cheshire and ending an 11-year wait for a domestic prize.

It would do more than ease Davis' insomnia. The Dallas native concedes he has been fortunate that Ian Reid, the club's chairman, has patience, valuing the labours undertaken by his playcaller within an expansive community programme as much as for his work on the sideline.

However, with sufficient budget to challenge, and a fan base which has grown since their move to the East End venue, there is an inescapable feeling that trophies are no longer an optional extra. "I haven't done that yet. I am aware of it," he notes. "I can never relax. I did exhale after the semi-final because it was something to be proud of and which was encouraging. But there's never a time to just enjoy basketball with so much going on. But that's what you have to stand up to and accept those challenges."

It is an inevitable hindrance that both Davis and his players devote many afternoons to schools visits and healthy-living clinics when their contemporaries can devote extra time to practice or recuperation. There is, the veteran forward asserts, a strategy at play. Despite the furore when UK Sport stripped basketball of its elite funding, participation numbers continue to grow with sheer volume likely to push through future talents. "There's something spreading," Davis claims. "The awareness is getting better. I've seen a growth in Glasgow, without a doubt. Once the structure is in place, it will be more of an asset. But the knocks are so frustrating. You just hope the government will see the game progressing the way we do. It's discouraging."

A full house at the Emirates Arena would provide a telling counter-point. It might also fuel a surprise. "We've shown two different sides of this Rocks team but if we can duplicate what we did last time, we'll give ourselves a shot. We have to focus on staying in it, rather than letting them fire on all cylinders."

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