Thunder’s hoop dreams

by Karl Graham

GRIFFITH Swords Thunder will hope to exorcise the demons of last year’s agonising loss to Templeogue a year ago as they contest just their second Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup final this weekend.
They go into the tie against Killester on Saturday at the National Basketball Arenas off the back of a big league weekend, cutting the gap to league leaders Templeogue to just three points with a comprehensive win over Radisson Blu UL Eagles.
And Thunder head coach Dave Baker has set his sights firmly on making club history with a first piece of senior silverware.
“Obviously we are excited; it is our second final in three years of existence in the Super League,” he told GazetteSport.
“We were runners-up in the league the first year and then last year we lost in the cup final so hopefully we can get redemption and take it home.”
Templeogue lifted the trophy last year after a dramatic 78-75 win after Thunder missed a last gasp three pointer to draw level, and Baker believes this has spurred on the club to go one step further this year.
“Last year, we sat there and watched Templeogue lift the trophy and I think that has stuck with us right up to now when we have a chance to go back and do it ourselves.
“I think the guys who remained from last year, players and management, were very determined to try and get back to the national cup final and win it this time.”
Thunder will likely go into the game as favourites on the back of league position and form but Baker knows that anything can happen in a cup final.
“Killester finished above us last year. They are in their 50th year and have won four national cups while we are only in it three years. Their experience helps but I am confident in the team we have. We have beaten them twice already this season but it’s a one-off game in front of a big crowd so you just never know.”
“I’ve said since the start of the year that there is no team strong enough to beat us; we will blow it ourselves so I feel it is down to how we play on the day.
“Teams can change things but we will pick it up quick enough and it will be down to the guys executing and putting the ball in the basket.”
Thunder also go into the final having had the luxury of resting players for the 89-52 win away to bottom side UL Eagles.
“We comprehensively beat UL, which was great because I got to rest one of the Americans and the other only played 14 minutes out of 40 so a lot of the second tier players got a lot of minutes,” said Baker.

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