ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — University at Albany’s Dwayne Killings and Siena College’s Carmen Maciariello may be at odds on the hardwood, but Thursday night the two head men’s basketball coaches and their wives united to host the 17th annual Capital Region Coaches versus Cancer Basket “Ball.”

The event was held at the Albany Capital Center, and has raised over $2.5 million since its’ inception 17 years ago.

Two local student-athletes were honored for their ongoing battle with cancer: Evan Franz and Joseph Carista, who both attend Tamarac High School. Both boys were selected to accept the 2022 Mary Ann Raymond Donnelly Fighting Spirit Award.

Also among the evening’s award winners was Syracuse University men’s basketball legend Gerry McNamara, who received the Inspiration Award.

McNamara has long been involved with Coaches vs. Cancer, and the awards carries tremendous significance for the 2003 national champion.

“It means a lot,” said McNamara. “You know, I’ve been a part of Coaches vs. Cancer ever since the moment I came to Syracuse, and Coach (Jim) Boeheim got me involved in that as a player, and these (events) matter. I believe that. These make a huge difference, and I’ve lost people in my life. I currently have people battling this (cancer). This organization’s incredible. You know, it’s the largest funder of…non-profit funder of cancer research in the country. You know, every chance I get to be apart of that, I’m going to be a part of it.”

Killings recognizes Thursday’s Basket “Ball” was just the first of many possible advantages of combining two of the Capital Region’s most prominent institutions to positively impact the community.

“I think we have a really unique opportunity this year; we’re getting a chance to play against each other, obviously,” said Killings. “But I think we can come together for a night like this. I think we can come together pretty soon to do some things in the community to promote our game. You know, I think that’s the strength of the two programs, the two institutions at Siena and Albany; to be able to impact people is part of the missions. And then, obviously, we’ll get out there and compete. Today’s a huge step, you know; do something really positive for the community.”

Maciariello simply relishes the opportunity to support such a noble cause.

“You know, everyone that…has the ability to make a difference can,” said Maciariello. “And, you know, I think my wife and I really are honored to be able to help. And that’s what it’s about, right? You have a chance to help, and cancer doesn’t know names; it just takes victims. And we try to do our part.”