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Gus Macker ready to hold court

More than 800 teams are expected to compete in the annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament this weekend in Niagara Square.

Traditionally held the last week in June in Western New York, the tournament was moved up three weeks early.

A total of 52 courts will be set up primarily on Delaware Avenue, extending from Huron to West Eagle, including all of Niagara Square. Street closings in the area begin at 1 p.m. today.

Teams already on the roster can register and receive game schedules from 2-7 p.m. today at the New Era headquarters and beginning at 6:45 a.m. Saturday. Teams are encouraged to check in this evening to avoid delays before games start on Saturday.

Opening ceremonies begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Top Women's Court located in front of City Hall. Mayor Byron Brown will take the Macker's first jump shot signifying the start of the two-day tournament. Games will start at 8:30 a.m.

The Macker once used the honor system in which players made their own foul calls but all games are now officiated by basketball referees.

Last year, nearly 4,000 players on 70 portable basketball courts shot jump shots and talked trash along Delaware Avenue from Niagara Square to Chippewa Street, as well as on side streets.

All proceeds benefit the Buffalo Police Athletic League.

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.

The Macker is also hosting three other events this weekend, in Morris, Ill., Oshkosh, Wis., and Grand Rapids, Mich.