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Senior Salutes: Raimo and Stansberry will be honored at home finale on Saturday

On a University of Hawai’i basketball team that still has work to complete, it is quite fitting that seniors Zigmars Raimo and Eddie Stansberry will be counted on to lead it the rest of the way.

Raimo and Stansberry will be honored on “Senior Night” when the Rainbow Warriors host UC Riverside in the regular-seasom home finale. The Big West Conference game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawai’i is 16-11 overall and tied for third place in the Big West at 7-6. The Highlanders are 15-15 overall and in eighth place at 5-9.

The Warriors are already assured of a spot in the Big West Conference Championship Tournament, and are now playing for as high a seed as possible. Pending various outcomes, Hawai’i could finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 7.

For seniors Raimo and Stansberry, it has been quite the journey. Both players exemplify the Warriors’ “back to work” mentality.

Raimo came to UH out of Latvia as a slightly overweight freshman during the 2016-17 season. He remembered stepping into his first open gym session prior to that season and going against the likes of Mike Thomas, Noah Allen and Gibson Johnson.

“I thought I’m a good player, I’m a pretty skilled player, but when I went into open gym with them, I realized I needed to put some work in,” Raimo said. “I didn’t play much my freshman and sophomore year, but I didn’t put my head down. I just got in the gym and I put the work in.”

The proof is in the statistics.

In his first two seasons, Raimo averaged 2.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game. Since becoming a starter as a junior, Raimo’s numbers have increased to 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.  He has also been the team leader in steals both last season (39) and this season (43).

Throughout his career in a UH jersey so far, Raimo has tallied 740 points, 474 rebounds, 158 assists and 101 steals. With at least four games remaining in his Hawai’i career, Raimo could become only the third Warrior in program history to finish with 500+ rebounds and 100+ steals. The only others are Phil Martin and Julian Sensley.

And that doesn’t even count the number of screens he set to free up teammates for shots, or the number of fouls he has drawn from opposing players – on both ends of the court.

“I can see now why people say hard work pays off,” he said. “That’s what happened to me. This four year experience has been good for me, it’s been life-changing for me.”

Stansberry came to Hawai’i a bit more polished out of City College of San Francisco in 2018, but like Raimo, had to earn his way into the starting lineup.

“Coming into my first year, it was a big transition,” he said. “It was a learning experience the first couple of months here during my first year.”

In particular, Stansberry opened the 2018-19 season as a reserve guard, primarily because he needed to work on bettering his defense and his overall offensive game.

“It’s just a lot of work that’s been put in that you don’t see on camera. It’s a lot of work that we put in practices, film, watching scouts and doing all that type of stuff.”

Now, as a senior, Stansberry has become virtually irreplaceable – he is averaging a team-high 37.0 minutes per game, and often defends the opposing team’s best guard.

Of course, Stansberry is best known as a long-range shooter, and he will leave UH with his name on several top 10 lists.

In Hawai’i’s last game, Stansberry made his 80th 3-pointer of this season. He is now one of just five UH players with 80 or more 3-pointers in a season The others are Zane Johnson (he did it twice), Michael Kuebler, Carl English and Trevor Ruffin.

Stansberry now has 157 3-pointers for his career, which ranks seventh on UH’s all-time list. With at least four games remaining, he could break into the top five for that statistic.

He is also challenging for top free throw percentage for a season and career. He is  currently at .877 for this season, and .823 for his career.

“I feel like I have to give out a million thank yous,” Stansberry said. “Foremost, I want to thank everybody, the fans, especially here in the state of Hawai’i. The support is so great, it’s unexplainable. You kind of have to experience it for yourself. I tell a lot of people that. Playing for these fans is such an amazing feeling.”

HAWAI’I (16-11, 7-6 Big West) vs. UC RIVERSIDE  (15-15, 5-9 Big West)
When: Thursday, Feb. 29, 7:00 p.m. HT
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu, HI
Television: Spectrum Sports
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Ticket Information: Lower level – $32; Upper level (prices vary by section) – $22 or $15 for adults, $18 or $13 for senior citizens, $8 or $5 for students. UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking is $7.
Coaches: Head coach Eran Ganot is in his fifth season at UH (85-54). David Patrick is in his second season at UC Riverside (25-38).
Series Information: UH leads, 7-6.
Promotions: Saturday is a “Senior Night/White Out” game. UHFCU will distribute 500 foldable fans & 3,000 men’s team photos prior to the game and  will award an iPad mini during the halftime contest.

Saturday’s Games
Long Beach State at UC Davis
Cal State Fullerton at CSUN
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine
UC Riverside at Hawai’i

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