UCD Marian’s Conor Meany on the attack in the semi-final against Killester. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

IOANNIS Lapiakis is looking forward to an epic battle this weekend as his UCD Marian side prepare to take on Templeogue in the final of the Men’s National Cup at the National Basketball Arena.
UCD have been in excellent for this season and also sit top of the Men’s Super League, having won 12 of their opening 14 games.
“We are really looking forward to the game. We are trying to prepare as best we can so we will be able to play well on Saturday,” Lapiakis told the Dublin Gazette.
“From the beginning of the season, we have treated every game as a final so we are not going to do anything special for this game.
“We have some small injuries, but as always with a final they are going to sacrifice their bodies for the team in games like that.”
UCD go into this game on the back of six straight wins, putting them in confident mood.
“The players are confident. We have had the best year so far, probably in the history of the club. We are at the top of the league since the beginning of the season until now.
“We have lost only two games until now and we have beaten Templeogue twice so, definitely, the confidence is really high. The only thing is we need to be focused and stay healthy for Saturday’s game.”
Despite having beaten Templeogue twice already this season, Lapiakis does that believe those victories will have any bearing on the final.
“In a final, I don’t think so. It is going to be like we start from scratch. History means nothing; that is in the past so every week is a completely different game.
“It is going to be a really tough game and I think it is going to be a really close game.
“They know how we play and we know how they play. Both of us have been playing the same for the last two or three years. You are not going to change anything dramatically in a period of one week.
“It is going to be the passion, the extra energy, and all the small things that the players put into the final. I think whoever wants it more is going to be the one who wins the game.”
When asked if he could feel the extra buzz around the team this year, Liapakis was in no doubt that was the case.
“Absolutely, I think everybody feels that. We worked really hard the past four or five years to reach this level and be able to do the things we are doing this year.
“At this level of basketball, there are two ways to be successful; with really hard work or with money. You can buy players or bring in American and European professionals.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the money to do something like that but we put in the really hard work.
“We have worked non-stop – even during the summer – almost every day over the last four of five years. That is why we are top of the league right now.”