The Albany Patroons will go their separate ways soon enough, but a team split on Friday was merely the product of travel challenges.
In the meantime, they have one last mission to complete together.
Albany will face the Shreveport Mavericks in Game 1 of a best-of-three series that will decide The Basketball League championship at 8 Saturday in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Game 2 will be 7 p.m. Wednesday back at the Washington Avenue Armory, and Game 3, if necessary, will be played Thursday night.
The Patroons received a farewell from fans at the Armory and an Albany Police Department escort to Albany International Airport on Friday morning.
Because of flight booking constraints on Fourth of July weekend, nine of the players and the coaching staff were on a flight to Dallas through LaGuardia in New York, and the other five players were booked to Dallas via Detroit. It’s about a 200-mile bus ride from Dallas to Shreveport.
The Patroons reached the championship series by winning Game 3 against Kokomo at the Armory on Monday, and Shreveport is coming off a West Regionals victory over SoCal.
The Albany-Shreveport series had been scheduled to begin on Wednesday, two days after the Patroons’ win over Kokomo, but the Albany front office threw up the white flag on travel plans when it became apparent there was no easy and timely way to get to Shreveport, and the start of the series was moved back to Saturday.
“We appreciate the league and Shreveport’s understanding,” Patroons head coach Will Brown said. “An awful lot of challenges, and we’re just excited about the opportunity to play.
The extra time also gave the Patroons an opportunity to assemble an in-depth scouting report on the Mavericks, mostly off Shreveport’s last three playoff games..
“We didn’t know anything about Shreveport as of 10 p.m. [Monday],” Brown said. “We play in a ball screen league, and an isolation, one-on-one league, and we try to do things a little different than that.
“Kokomo was clearly strength in numbers. They wear you down, beat you up, try to be real physical with you. This team is a lot of isolation basketball.”
Brown identified guard Bernard “Paul” Parks and center Paul Harrison as two Shreveport players who will get extra attention in the scout.
Parks, who played at NAIA Point University in Georgia, is averaging 23.1 points per game, and Harrison, who played Division II ball at North Greenville University in South Carolina, is averaging 19.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
“They have a guy that can beat you from the perimeter in Paul Parks,” Brown said. “I coached him in the all-star game. As good of a shooter as there in the TBL. Then they have a 6-8, 6-9, 270-pound big man, Paul Harrison, who can really shoot it from the perimeter, but he’s a nightmare down on the low block, one-on-one.
“So they’re not a team that relies on one or two perimeter guys. They’ve got good balance. And they play more zone defensively than anything we’ve seen all year long, so we’ll have to be prepared for that, as well.”
The Patroons are prepared for anything at this point, with the postseason down to its final chapter.
“It’s always a battle, and I know this from experience, because I was here in 2019 when we won the championship, so we’ve got to go take it,” Patroons center Anthony Moe said after the 121-83 victory over Kokomo on Monday. “No one’s going to give us anything at this point. We’ve got to be the more aggressive one every time.
“It’s going to be a tough one, but if we stick to Patroons basketball, we’ll win the whole thing,” guard AJ Mosby said.