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By Michele Sequeira

Basketball Game Blurs Party Lines

New Mexico House plays Senate in Hoops 4 Hope game to benefit cancer patients at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

Update [Feb. 3]: NMSU Men's Basketball Coach Chris Jans will coach the House "Aggies"

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At the end of each legislative session, New Mexico's senators and representatives lace up to play a hotly-contested basketball game. No one officially tracks how many games each team has won - or any other statistics - because, in the end, the real winners are New Mexicans who face cancer.

The Hoops 4 Hope game pits the New Mexico Senate "Lobos" against the House of Representatives "Aggies" instead of dividing the legislature along party lines. A longstanding tradition, the game evolved into a fundraiser for New Mexico's cancer patients when Representative Ray Ruiz died of lung cancer in 2004.

This year's Hoops 4 Hope game will take place February 11 at 7 pm in the Santa Fe Indian School gymnasium.

"The proceeds from the Hoops 4 Hope game help us to deliver the compassionate comprehensive cancer care that all New Mexicans deserve," says Cheryl Willman, MD, Director and CEO of The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1999. "It is an important source of support for the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and we are deeply grateful to New Mexico's legislators for their commitment to fighting cancer in our state."

Proceeds from the Hoops 4 Hope game support patients going through treatment. Last year's game raised more than $33,000 and since 2007, the annual game has raised more than $200,000.

Traditionally, the teams are coached by UNM and New Mexico State University coaches, mimicking the state rivalry. NMSU has not yet named the House Aggies coach for this year's game. UNM, in a break with tradition, has announced that UNM Athletics Director Eddie Nunez will coach the Senate Lobos.

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The Hoops 4 Hope game is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted and greatly appreciated. The Santa Fe Indian School is located at 1501 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM, 87505.

Categories: Comprehensive Cancer Center