Claire Paxton has only ever seen the videos of her father Iain sparking Scotland to a rugby Grand Slam – and as a rampant British Lion.

But the basketball Braveheart reckons it lit a fire in her belly that’s helped her become a scoring sensation with her own shot at the top.

The Scots forward, 24, will hit the biggest stage in British hoops today when she leads Leicester Riders onto the floor at London’s 02 Arena for the Women’s BBL Playoff final against Sevenoaks Suns in front of a 15,000 crowd and the BBC TV camera.

Her biggest fan, now 61 and still coaching, will be cheering her on and I’m grateful for the skill and grit he passed on, Claire insists.

She said: “It must have put some sort of drive in me, knowing he’s done so well. I’ve got the right genes clearly!

“He’s never pushed me but he has motivated and inspired me to be the best I can be. He always encouraged me to go for it at a higher level where I can and because he’s been there, he’s been able to offer me a lot of support.

“I’ve only ever seen a couple of videos of him scoring tries. But there have been people who I’ve met who were star struck because he was my Dad. I never realised until then that he was a big deal.

“But I was brought up around rugby and rugby clubs so I always had a sense of what he’d achieved. He doesn’t talk about it much though. It was just that rugby was always on the TV so it was about all the time.”

The Scotland cap has had to battle a torn cartilage in her ankle to make the end of season showpiece – with Leicester aiming for double glory when their men’s team meet London City Royals afterwards in the BBL finale.

And while Iain went long-distance to make his mark as part of the 1983 Lions tour to New Zealand, his daughter reckons her own overseas tour to university in Colorado was just the ticket in opening her eyes to a whole new ball game.

She said: “The States was a good experience, especially in basketball. The way they play is more intense and it gave me more of a work ethic. You need to work to earn your time on the court and I brought that back with me.

“As long as you get the right support from coaches, and they know what you can cope with mentally, it’s good to be pushed and they do that there.

“There is a bit of an adjustment when you come back. British basketball is very different isn’t it? You have to get used to playing in a sports hall rather than an arena. All the other little facilities.

“But the game is the same. At this level, everyone wants to win. The playing standard is just as good if not better in the WBBL but the environment is a shift.”

Leicester will start as underdogs despite landing the WBBL Trophy in Glasgow in March with Sevenoaks winning the league without losing a game. But Paxton said: “We’re just focusing on our strengths and that’s what we lean on whoever we’re playing. Getting our plays down perfect and knowing what we do great.

“Our defence, we’ll do the same thing whoever we’re playing. We might talk about certain players but we’ll control what we can with us rather than worrying too much about an opponent.”


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