With one of its member from Puerto Rico, the University of San Diego men’s basketball team is hosting an exhibition game against Arizona State on Wednesday to raise money for the people affected by Hurricane Maria.
Both schools jointly petitioned the NCAA for the waiver to host the extra exhibition game with the funds going to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
“We are committed to helping the people of Puerto Rico at this very difficult time,” said USD basketball coach Lamont Smith, who was an assistant coach at Arizona State from 2004-2012. “Having Puerto Rican native Jose Martinez on our team gives our university a heartfelt connection to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”
Martinez, the sophomore forward, didn’t hear from his family for two weeks after the hurricane hit the island. Maria devastated the island and took out much of the territory’s infrastructure.
“It was a hard time for me to know that my family was going through such a hard time and I wasn’t able to be there with them. That was the hardest part,” Martinez said. “This games means a lot to me, to my family because we’re going to be able help in some sort of way.”
About 70 percent of the island is still without power more than a month after Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 20. More than 900 people have died since but the official death toll is still listed at 51.
Puerto Rico government officials confirmed to BuzzFeed that 911 bodies were allowed to be cremated without being examined by a medical examiner to determine if they should be included in the death toll. The cause of death was officially listed as “natural causes.”
Tickets for the exhibition game between the Toreros and Sun Devils are $10 for general admission and $5 for children and USD students. Ticket sales from the game will be donated to Catholic Charities USA for Hurricane Maria relief.
“This is a special opportunity for all of us at USD to live our change-making mission and to positively impact the lives of those suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria,” USD athletic director Bill McGillis said.
USD and Arizona State have met on the court twice before (1991 and 2003), with the Sun Devils winning both times.
Game time is 7 p.m. at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavillion. Donations for Maria relief may also be made directly to Catholic Charities USA.
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