UCD can right Cup wrongs after semi-final victory
UCD MARIAN's Greek coach Ioannis Liapakis has a chance to right the wrongs of last year's National Cup tragedy after their 91-63 semi-final win over Belfast Star on Saturday.
The Dubliners, who face Killester for the spoils after their 76-70 win over Tralee Warriors, endured a narrow defeat in last January's decider after Liapakis was hit with a technical foul for stepping on to the court in the dying stages.
"I'm really thrilled that we're going back to the final because last year one of my mistakes caused the players to lose the Cup. So it was huge for me personally to help them get back this time," Liapakis said.
Mike Garrow, Conor Meany and Mariusz Markowicz's sharp shooting got the reigning league champions off to a flying start on Saturday and saw them lead 50-37 by half-time.
Star, however, failed to keep pace with the Dubliners in Cork's Mardyke Arena, and the gap continued to grow.
"That may be the best performance in the year defensively for us and if we play well in defence we have a good offence and that's what happened tonight," Liapakis added.
"In the league we don't have consistency at the moment, so we knew that this was a huge opportunity for us to prove that we are at high level basketball."
In Saturday night's game in the southern capital, Ciaran Roe of Killester ensured this year's Cup final will be an all-Dublin affair after his 34-point masterclass fired his side into the decider.
Fergal O'Sullivan and Keith Jumper spearheaded a Tralee Warriors comeback after Kieran Donaghy and Co found themselves trailing the Dubliners by 43-32 at half-time.
A revitalised Kerry side managed to narrow the gap to just two points, but Roe, having played a starring role, held his nerve when shooting from the free-throw line at the death to seal his side's path to victory.
Meanwhile, Allie LeClaire and Briana Green powered Liffey Celtics into the Women's Cup final, where they will take on Brunell, in their 71-51 win over last year's champions DCU Mercy.