Pro basketball in Albuquerque is focused on community and local flavor

Former New Mexico Lobo player Devon Williams was the first player to sign with the Bullsnakes. Isaiah Smith/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

Bullsnakes vs Real Hoops (charity exhibition game)
Sunday March 31, 2019 – 3pm MT
La Cueva High School

The Lobos are not dancing but there is still plenty of New Mexico basketball talent to watch in March… and the upcoming months.
While the Albuquerque Bullsnakes, an American Basketball Association team, won’t start their inaugural season until November, they are doing exhibitions for the next couple of months. The roster is filled with players with ties to the state. The first one to sign was former New Mexico Lobo Devon Williams. 
Owner and General Manager Nick Lourenco said Williams was in Texas waiting for an opportunity. Someone told Lourenco about him and, after watching some film, he and head coach Mike Huston decided Williams was exactly the type of guy they needed. The official announcement of the signing came early February.
The GM said Williams is still looking to play at a higher level, and that’s something the team wants to help him with.
“He’s pursuing a dream of still going to a bigger league. We want to help him with that,” Lourenco said. “We are going to be looking for opportunities for him overseas. I like him, he helps the team on the court and off the court…. We are hoping he becomes the leader that I think he can be on this team.”
Another former Lobo was also temporarily part of the roster. Obij Aget, who graduated from UNM in 2017, stayed with the team for only a couple practice sessions before he got a contract in Lebanon. Lourenco said if things didn’t work out, Aget would be welcomed back as the doors would always be open for him.

Tryouts started in November and ended in January. The team, which is not complete yet, is made up of a lot of players with connections to New Mexico.
“They might not have been born here, but they have roots here,” said Lourenco about the players currently listed on the roster. “They went to high school or a local university. This is a New Mexican team. There is not one player who is not connected to New Mexico.”
An example of this is Dominique Josephs, who was born in Jamaica but had Northern New Mexico College on his resume. The 6’9″ forward was the leading rebounder for the Eagles after he transferred to NNMC from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas.
The Bullsnakes’ exhibition games will take place every month as part of the Community Partners Program. These are charity games that give 50 percent of the profits to the school where the game is played and to a charity. The one on March 31 will be played at La Cueva High School, with the donation going to the La Cueva girls volleyball team and the YMCA.
First charity game Feb. 24, 2019: Bullsnakes vs NM Select Stars
When asked what could be expected from an ABA game, Lourenco said fans will see a fast-paced and high-scoring game. While the team is currently only playing exhibition matches, coach Huston has high expectations from his players.
During Thursday’s practice, the coach listed a couple goals he expects his team to meet this weekend. These include taking at least 95 “reasonable” shots, shooting 50% from inside and 40% from beyond the arc. On the defense, Huston wants his players to keep the opponent under 40% from inside and under 30% from outside the arc.
Huston’s last job as a head coach was with the Eldorado High School girls basketball team. He retired as the Eagles’ coach in 2016. In total, he has 33 years of experience coaching boys and girls basketball in the state of New Mexico.
Of course, it’s not only the head coach who has high expectations this early in the journey. Lourenco said he knows a new team takes time to adjust, but he has faith in the players and staff.
“I want to win the title,” he said when asked about his goal for the first season. “We’ll see if it happens. I’m ambitious about this team.”
Click here to go to the official Albuquerque Bullsnakes website