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An early tipoff for downtown Gus Macker tournament; Last event drew 4,000 players

The 2012 Buffalo Gus Macker 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament is returning to downtown Buffalo -- about three weeks earlier than usual.

The popular event will be held June 2 and 3, it was announced Wednesday at a news conference in the lobby of New Era Cap on Delaware Avenue.

"The event is a little earlier than last year. It's three weeks earlier," said Bill Loecher, vice president of the West Herr Group of auto dealerships and chairman of the 2012 Gus Macker basketball tournament.

"I know it's traditionally been [held] the last weekend in June, but [this year] it's coming up in just three short weeks. So please, get on the website [and] register," Loecher added.

The registration deadline is Monday and can be completed online at A $144 team registration fee is required.

Last year, nearly 4,000 players filled 70 makeshift basketball courts along Delaware Avenue from Niagara Square to Chippewa Street, as well as on side streets. All proceeds from the event benefit the Buffalo Police Athletic League.

"This is one of the great events that takes place in downtown Buffalo," said Mayor Byron W. Brown, who attended the news conference, along with representatives from local sponsors of the tournament.

"Not only is there great basketball, but there are vendors, there is food [and] there is fun. It's a great event for Western New York," Brown said.

This year's sponsors include Buffalo Bills cornerback Terrence McGee, the Toyota Dealers of Western New York, AT&T, Rural/Metro Medical Services and Catholic Health-AthletiCare, among others.

"While we don't expect any injuries, it is a tough competition, and accidents sometimes do happen," said Rob Lederman, a disc jockey with WGRF-FM 97 Rock, another sponsor of the competition.

"We want to make sure that we thank everybody from Rural/Metro and AthletiCare that will be on hand providing top-notch medical services," added Lederman, who acted as master of ceremonies at Wednesday's announcement.