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Notebook: Final piece for Lobo basketball arriving

The last one to sign was the last one to arrive.

But by the end of the holiday weekend, they’ll all finally be in Albuquerque.

Vladimir Pinchuk, a 6-foot-9 forward from Germany who signed to play with the Lobos basketball team, received his student visa late last week and was expected to arrive in Albuquerque from his home in Hagen, Germany, in time to start classes Tuesday at the University of New Mexico.

While Pinchuk, who didn’t sign with the Lobos until Aug. 11 and then had to apply for and wait arrival of his student visa before traveling to Albuquerque, has already missed the first two weeks of classes, UNM coach Paul Weir said the freshman has been in contact with academic adviser Keyana Smith to get as prepared for the late start as possible with each of his classes.

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Pinchuk is one of two international players on the Lobos roster — both of the team’s freshmen — who weren’t in the country when classes started Aug. 21. Guard Makuach Maluach, a 6-5 guard from Australia, arrived three days after classes began.

Weir is confident both will be eligible to play when the season starts Nov. 11.

Pinchuk is the only Lobo not added to the team’s roster on the golobos.com website.

AND ANTINO, TOO: Akron graduate transfer Antino Jackson was officially accepted and enrolled into a graduate program in education just last week and is eligible to play for the Lobos this season.

The 5-11 point guard has been in Albuquerque more than a month, but had to wait until all his degree work was finalized with Akron and approved before being eligible for a graduate program at UNM. As a graduate transfer, he is immediately eligible to play this season.

Almost all of the Lobos basketball team was on hand at Saturday’s UNM football game, where it was introduced in the first half to a loud ovation at Dreamstyle Stadium.

“These fans out in ABQ are crazy. It was good getting out to support @UNMLoboFB & meet all these wonderful fans, #GoLobos,” Jackson posted on his Twitter account after the game.

WALK-ON TRYOUTS: Three UNM students made it past an open walk-on tryout Aug. 25 and were asked to practice this past week and to a second tryout this coming week, Weir said.

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“We’ve got three that are still in the process of trying out,” said Weir, who said until he knows which, if any, make the team he didn’t want to name the players. “We have a follow-up walk-on tryout for those three coming up and we’ve invited them to practice. …

“I just want to explore where it goes and I’ve told them all there are not guarantees. They may all make it or none of them may make it, but we’re going to give them an extended look.”

NOT SO GREAT: When the Great Alaska Shootout, one of the oldest early-season, exempt tournaments in college basketball, announced last month it would no longer exist after this season, it left the Lobos looking for a tournament for the 2018-19 season.

While nothing was ever signed or official, the Lobos under Craig Neal had tentatively planned to play in the event in 2018.

Weir has been in talks with the company that runs the event, as well as others around college basketball, and UNM still hopes to play in an exempt tournament next season. It just doesn’t know which one.

UNM will play in an event this season in Florida and has signed on for the Legends Classic in New York City for November 2020. There is nothing set in stone for tournaments in the 2018-19 or 2019-20 seasons.

HELPING HOUSTON: The Lobos, like most other college basketball teams around the country, answered the challenge of University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast last week.

The Cougars coach challenged all his NCAA hoops peers to send what they could to help Harvey survivors. Basketball operations director Ryan Berryman last week sent out an email to the entire athletics department inviting anyone to chip in on the shipment the team was sending and they received donations — mostly Lobo T-shirts and some unused shoes — from the women’s basketball team, baseball, men’s tennis and the UNM spirit program.

UNM shipped off six large boxes of donations late last week.

IT’S IN HIS BLOOD: Weir visited last week with UNM’s club hockey team and, while he didn’t get out on the ice to skate, he plans to at some point this school year.

Weir, from Canada, still very much loves hockey as a fan and said he hopes to help the club hockey team however he can.


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