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City of Albuquerque celebrates UNM men's basketball team

The City of Albuquerque hosted a celebration for the recently crowned champions of the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament this past Thursday, April 11.

Mayor Tim Keller and the men’s basketball team came out to greet and spend time with the fans.

Keller presented two trophies to the Lobos: a golden Lobo hand and the official winning basketball. Keller spoke about what the accomplishment meant, not only to the fans, but to the city itself.

“Everyday is a great day to be a Lobo, but it’s really special this year,” Keller said. “It’s our first Mountain West Championship in 10 years. We also had an amazing start to the season. All the home games were sold out if not close. Most importantly, for those of us who have been around a long time, when the Lobos rise and win, it brings our whole city together like no other.”

With the men’s basketball season coming to a close, changes to the team next year hang in the air. The backcourt will be broken up by Jaelen House using his final year of eligibility to play and Jamal Mashburn Jr. entering the transfer portal.

Head Coach Richard Pitino praised the Lobo fans for their support over the season, and throughout his three years as head coach.

“There was one reason why I came here three years ago, and that is because we believe we have one of the best fan bases in all of college basketball,” Pitino said.

Around a hundred fans were at the event and got to spend time with the Lobos, getting their custom-made T-shirts and basketballs signed by the players and coaches.

Supporters of the University of New Mexico basketball team for over 40 years, Gary and Marla Dyer buy season tickets and travel with the Lobos every year to Las Vegas to watch the Mountain West tournament.

“(Neither of us are) UNM alumni. We’ve been very athletic our whole lives, and in the 1980s started watching Lobo basketball and have watched every year since,” Gary Dyer said. “We’re really glad that (the men’s team) got to win the championship this year. They deserve it.”

In celebration of the team’s accomplishment, Keller announced that the new indoor track at the Albuquerque Convention Center will hang banners for all UNM sports accomplishments – the first for the men’s Mountain West 2024 title.

“For the city, it’s amazing to see how the Lobos lift us up in a way that nothing else really does,”  Keller said. “And for myself personally, as someone who’s followed them my whole life, it’s really special to now be mayor and congratulate them on their accomplishment.”

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Pitino also talked about what it meant for himself and the team to have the city host an event for them.

“It’s great to have the city show the support that it has today. We know that the Lobos are important to the city, and to the state and to see that turn out here today at the airport and in The Pit – that’s what drives these guys,” Pitino said.

Pitino also expressed his joy in the progress that the program has had in the last three years since he arrived, saying that it’s been great, but there's still more progress to be made.

“We won the Mountain West title, won 26 games in the season, so now our goal is to win the regular season title and hopefully be able to advance in the NCAA tournament – which are both hard things to do,” Pitino said.

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @BillyJackDL

BillyJack Davidson

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL 

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