Spring has sprung, hockey playoffs are on, and there's a Buffalo team competing for a championship! Sorry, Sabres fans, but those last two statements are unrelated. It's the PBL's Buffalo 716ers generating a buzz this week as they prepare to travel to Rochester to face off with the Rochester Razorsharks in the PBL's Northeast Division championship game this upcoming Sunday.
This is Buffalo's first taste of playoff basketball since 1976, before the Braves took their talents to Coronado Beach, and there's definitely reasons to get excited about this team. As anyone who came out to watch the 716ers play this season at ECC's Burt Flickinger Athletic Center can tell you, this is a team that plays with a high level of energy at both ends of the floor, which is aided by the tremendous depth that the team has shown, going with a ten man rotation in a number of their previous games this season. The team averages over 100 points per game during their regular season run, fueled by stellar backcourt play from guards Devon Dawson, Jonny Marsh, and Lester Jones, amongst a slew of others who need just that little bit of separation to make a defender hang his head heading back upcourt.
While this is the 716ers first playoff appearance since only recently joining the PBL, their opponents are no stranger to this kind of spotlight. The Rochester Razorsharks have been a member of the league since it's inception for the 2007-2008 season, and are five time league champions, hoisting the trophy the last two seasons. Their depth, both inside and outside, has proven to be a matchup problem for opponents all season, as they come into this Sunday's contest with in 18-2 record, and a 33 game home winning streak. This will be the third matchup between the two teams, with Rochester winning by 13 at home, and beating the 716ers by 8 in Buffalo, the 716ers only home loss of the season.
In true Buffalo sports spirit, though, you won't see this team backing down from a challenge. Having been a part of broadcasting the second meeting between these two teams (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFIe2MCrG8Y), I can definitely say these are two evenly matched teams when both of them are on their game. This is one of those matchups that could easily come down to one key defensive stop or momentum shifting three pointer. If the 716ers can show more of the heart and tenacity they showed throughout this season, this Sunday could be another stepping stone in a climb to bringing a basketball championship to Buffalo for the first time in history.
If you're interested in attending the game this Sunday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester at 2pm, the team is chartering a bus that costs you $25 for a seat and includes a ticket to the game. Ride with the team and have an opportunity to witness Buffalo sports history! We'll be there! Will you?