Buffalo, NY- The eighth season of the Healthy Buffalo Champions League got underway this past Sunday with a bang. With only a brief off season, Healthy Buffalo fans and analysts expected a quiet offseason. Yet there were plenty of moves being made and a number of new teams that joined the league.
The first game of the day featured your very own Healthy Buffalo squad. The Healthy Buffalo squad welcomed the acquisition of big-man Darren Kresge, who was joined by Healthy Buffalo legend John Bowen, who returned to his roots after a number of seasons playing with Sponge Bob, and Healthy Buffalo veterans Dave Laudero, Marcus Hervey, Paul Staring and Quentin Holliday. They faced the only brand new team to the league, the Looney Toons. The Looney Toons were led by captain Chris Einhart, who had a solid debut performance with 10 points. It would prove to be too little though against a rebuilt Healthy Buffalo squad who came away with a 54-44 season opening win.
In game two the Shiller Park Boyz, led behind the stellar play of Mike Bennett and Nick Jarmusz, steamrolled Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy with a relentless full court press. Despite jumping out to a 46-11 halftime lead, they kept the press going all game and locked up the 99-48 win. Mike Bennett kicked in 28 points and Nick Jarmusz led all scorers with 33 points.
White Men Can’t Jump welcomed their return to League B with a solid 65-40 win against The U.H. Frank Musso led all scorers with 25 points, while newcomer Dave McNall chipped in another 22 in his debut performance.
In the 4pm game Bashir Ansari brought back Team First to the Champions League and won a nail-biter against Reloaded. Brian Alley looked sharp scoring a game high 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the ‘team first’ ethos of Team First, who got off to a great start to the season.
Game 5 featured two of the Champions League’s most storied franchises as the VeryAggressiveGuys battled Nick Pfohman and the Flint Tropics. GM/Captain Nick Pfohman picked up Phi Slamma Jamma star Brian Jolley in the offseason and he provided just the spark that the Flint Tropics needed, scoring a game high 21 points. Yet the VeryAggressiveGuys proved once again that there is no need for drastic changes in the off season as they maintained their nucleus and brought home the 50-36 win in the opener.
The Buffalo Braves were back in action after taking the spring season off. They were tasked with taking on one of the league’s top teams, Sponge Bob Square Pants. They played a tough game, trailing by only one at the half, but in the second half they simply had no answer for Healthy Buffalo legend Jon Burgio who scored a game high 30 points to lead Sponge Bob to a 61-51 win.
In the 7pm game Yao Know What I Ming (the spiritual successor of UPB) played a chippy game against Full Clip (the spiritual successor of Ball Never Lies) in what many thought had the intensity of a playoff game. Mike Ridge led Yao Know What I Ming with 25 points, while Jon Marsh led Full Clip with 25 points as well. Full Clip rallied in the second half and almost picked up the win, but came up just short losing 62-58.
In the most anticipated season opening game in league history, Norfolk N’ Chance took on Swoopin’ In On Ya Girl in a matchup full of drama and league history. After the collapse of the original Swoopin’ In On Ya Girl, John Papincak was recruited to one of the leagues founding franchises, Norfolk N’ Chance. The acquisition was heralded at the time as one of the greatest free agent pickups in league history. However shortly after joining the team, things began to sour as the relationship between Papincak and Norfolk N’ Chance leader Jon Plail began to deteriorate. The two managed to keep things civil through a season and a half, until finally midway through season seven as Norfolk N’ Chances season began to unravel, Papincak quit the team. Most analysts believe that Papincak’s freewheeling style of play just didn’t work well with the more structured brand of basketball that Plail likes to play. Others thought that the court simply wasn’t big enough for the two of them and there were simply too few balls to go around. Hence the Papincak v. Plail feud had officially begun.
Papincak wasted no time in rebuilding Swoopin In’ On Ya Girl, bringing back brothers Brett and Erik Hansen and filling out the lineup with a who’s who of Champions League stars, including Dave Hall, Justin Andreozzi, Dan Gilbert, and much to the dismay of Norfolk N’ Chance fans, the league’s all-time scorer Dean Antalik. It was the pickup of Antalik that many analysts believe was the most hurtful of all, the move that brought the Papincak v. Plail feud to the next level. Many players hop form team to team, but it was always assumed that Antalik would spend his entire career and retire with Norfolk N’ Chance. Norfolk N’ Chance quietly made some acquisitions of their own picking up Josh Becker and Adam Brasky. Greg Arnold set the tone early on, pinning Antalik’s first shot of the game against the backboard and then scoring on the other end of the court with a nice finger roll. It didn’t take long for Norfolk N’ Chance to blow this game wide open with a 21 point lead. Swoopin’ In On Ya Girl fought back and made it respectable by the end, but clearly Norfolk N’ Chance made a statement in the 71-63 win.
What the 9pm game between the Raw Dawgs and Spartans lacked in league lore it more than made up for with buzzer-beating heroics and the longest game in league history. The Spartans jumped out to a comfortable 36-28 lead at the half, but in the second half Shane Canahai (28 points) and Bloomfield (23 points) put the pedal to the medal and regained the lead, carrying a slim three point lead with seconds remaining. On what appeared to be the final possession of regulation for the Spartans, Danny Glover missed an open three and a chance to tie the game with seven seconds left. Raw Dawgs big-man Nick Johnson pulled down the rebound and heaved a pass down the court, which was miraculously picked off by Glover, who then took two dribbles down the court and heaved in an NBA range three-pointer as time expired to carry the game into overtime. After five overtime periods, the Spartans pulled out the 88-87 win to cap off the longest game in league history.
In the final game of the night the Fastbreakers made their debut in League A against Gary Lee and Concrete. The Fastbreakers picked up league newcomer Charles Thomas for the summer season and he made an immediate impact, leading the Fastbreakers with 21 points. Romaine Lewis made up for the absence of Al Ahmed with what was perhaps the best game of his career, scoring a game high 33 points. This one however would go to the Fastbreakers as they displayed what could be one of the best shooting backcourts in the league.
Champions League action continues next week at 1pm!