By ALBERT LEE
On April 25, the Washington Mystics introduced point guard Rui Machida to the media.
In her availability, Machida said that one of the things attracting her to the team was that both Washington and Fujitsu RedWave, her team in Japan, both play a similar style of basketball offensively and defensively.
But most importantly, Machida, a 29-year-old native of Hokkaido, stressed that she was encouraged to stay true to herself. General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault also stressed that he wanted “Rui to just be Rui.”
Machida represented Japan in the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal in the latter Games.
Machida’s English is limited, so she had a translator throughout the availability. To Thibault, he doesn’t expect language barriers to be a problem, given that talent can transcend that, and Washington will adjust with more hand signals.
The Mystics guard was also asked about whether she spoke to Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura, given that he is also Japanese. She said that she did not speak to him regarding her signing specifically. Hachimura has predicted that she will do well with her new team.
Machida participated in practice the day before and was able to make some her trademark passes. Thibault said she surprised a few people with passes in her first practice.
Washington Post sports reporter Kareem Copeland tweeted, “That’s what Thibault said teammates better learn quick: Run with your hands up and be ready or you might get hit in the face.”