One of Ireland’s greatest basketball players has hailed the current generation as better than ever ahead of the sport’s marquee event this weekend.

Colin O’Reilly is player coach with men’s National Cup finalists C&S UCC Demons who take on UCD Marian in front of a live TV audience on Saturday. The 2,000-seater capacity National Basketball Arena is sold out for both the men’s and women’s finals.

“With the ‘80s being gone and the ‘90s obviously, everyone said that was the boom years for basketball. But right now I think that people are underestimating the quality of players that are out on the floor. The Irish players are better right now than they were back then,” he said.

Cup holders Demons are the clear favourites for Saturday night’s final on the back of a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

“Most of the scores they get are through transition and three-point shots,” says UCD Marian Coach Ioannis Liapakis.

“We’ll look to move the ball as much as we can and try to be aggressive. That’s the main plan.”

Women’s National Cup finalists Pyrobel Killester are leaning into their underdogs’ tag as they prepare to face defending champions Team Montenotte Hotel. The two sides are at opposite ends of the Women’s Premier League, but Killester’s Aisling Sullivan is looking forward to a first national final since 2006.

“To say I’m excited right now is an understatement,” said the captain. “Team Montenotte have earned the right to be favourites. We just need to play hard and play our game and anything can happen on the day. We’re looking to peak at the right time of the season.”