Have you ever considered having a regular chat with a WNBA player? Say, over coffee or just hanging out at a backyard barbecue? That’s the kind of feeling I’m aiming for with And One – a series regular for Only a women’s sport Includes 10 questions. I’m asking about the basketball stuff, of course, but also about their lives off the court so you can get to know the WNBA players a little better.
The first thing I noticed about Rui Machida during the Zoom interview is that she smiles a lot. She sat beside her English translator, Mickey Takei, at a conference table, answering every question and giving the answers comfortably and quickly as she passed the ball across the court. She also laughs a lot, and it’s easy to see why her fellow Washington Mystics enjoy having her on the floor and in the locker room.
Machida, 29, has played for Fujitsu’s red wave in the Japan Women’s Basketball Association since 2011. When coach Mike Thibault called her and had a chance to join the Mystics this season, she seized the opportunity. The world of women’s basketball was first introduced to Machida at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. she She raised her profile even further At the Olympics last summer in her home country of Japan, the 5-foot-4 goalkeeper set an Olympic record with 18 assists in Japan’s 87-71 semi-final win over France. With the Mystics fifth this season, Machida has averaged 12.9 minutes off the bench in 28 games and provided 2.4 assists per game.
We talked a little bit about basketball and non-basketball, and shared lots of laughs.
1. Why did you decide to play for Mystics?
First of all, I got an offer from Coach Thibault. Then the way they play basketball, I really liked it. I heard that Mystics is a good team, which is why I decided to join this team.
2. How is the WNBA different from the Japan Women’s Basketball League?
I felt that their heights, lengths, and strengths were very different from the leagues in Japan. I realized that Japan is a lot like high tempo basketball, and here in the WNBA they have their own style of play. Every team is different. Also, in terms of skill – shot percentage is a unique way to play in Japan. But here, one-on-one skill and one-on-one handling skills are more talented than playing in Japan.
3. As a smaller goalkeeper in the league, how did you manage to take advantage of your speed against the taller guards?
To be honest, I didn’t fully use speed or speed (laughs). I need to focus more, like, on changing the pace on the court. That’s what I’m trying to focus on right now.
4. How does Mystics play differently when Elena Delle Donne is sitting down to play a match?
So, obviously When Elena can playThe team is really good on both ends of the floor. But without Elena, [Natasha Cloud] and alisha [Clark] Try to take on this responsibility to lead the team and build momentum. That’s what I realized without Elena.
5. What is the most important thing you have learned so far from playing in the WNBA?
To be honest, there are a lot of things I’ve learned so far from the WNBA. Like I said, their heights, lengths, and physiques are completely different. So I was trying to figure out how I can play in a limited space. Also, I was trying to find my own playing style. There is no easy game in the WNBA. So when the match gets closer, I can learn from the coaches and the players.
6. Who was the toughest player on the US women’s Olympic team?
(laughs) So – Sue Bird.
7. What kind of music do you like listening to and who is your favorite group?
American music or…? You may not know them, but I prefer listening to slow music. Kind of relaxing music. And the artist I like is Shota Shimizu and also Imeon. Really popular artists in Japan.
8. What do you like to do when you’re not playing basketball?
lead (laughs). I own a RAV4 SUV. When I’m not in a hurry, I don’t care about traffic. I just listen to music.
9. What would WNBA fans be surprised to know about you?
I have two brothers but I don’t think that’s a good answer (laughs).
Let me think for a moment…
I played baseball from kindergarten to second grade in elementary school. Then I started playing basketball instead. I still go to batting cages to hit balls sometimes.
10. Who is your all-time favorite WNBA player?
So Bird. I watched it before I came to the WNBA. I first saw it before I went to Rio for the Olympics. And in Rio I managed to face it, like playing against it, only a little. But it was an enjoyable experience.
Lindsay Darkangelo is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports, covering the WNBA and college basketball. She also contributes to The Athletic and is co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the Women’s National Football League. Follow Lindsay on Twitter MustafaHosny Oh God, Amen.