On Monday evening, 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.
Rui on what about the Mystics’ play attracted her to DC: They are a defensive team like her Japanese team. Also quite similar offensively.— BF_Mystics (@BF_mystics) April 26, 2022
But most importantly, Machida 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’s English is limited, so she had a translator for her 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.
Coach T on Rui being brought in for leadership: basketball is a universal language so it’s a good starting point.— BF_Mystics (@BF_mystics) April 26, 2022
The Mystics will also do a lot of hand signals as well as verbal signals, which will be an open secret, given Rui’s language barrier.
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.
If everything plays out to plan, Machida will play later today when the Mystics host the Minnesota Lynx. She did participate in practice yesterday and was able to make some her trademark passes.
Another Rui Machida note: Thibault said she surprised a few people with passes in her first practice today. (I saw her get Shakira Austin once.) 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. #WNBA— Kareem Copeland (@kareemcopeland) April 26, 2022
Yesterday’s practice was also significant for two of Washington’s key veterans, Elena Delle Donne and Alysha Clark.
Delle Donne practiced in a 5-on-5 environment yesterday and Thibault was optimistic that she would play today.
On Wednesday morning, the team announced that she would start and make her preseason debut.
In addition, Clark tweeted yesterday evening that her right foot is responding as normal after having Lisfranc surgery last year.
I started crying happy tears! This was the 1st time I didn’t think about my foot while on the court & felt like a player again. All the rehab & work got me to that one moment. Man. Had to take that feeling in. They thought I was hurt, had to tell them it was tears of joy— Alysha Clark (@Alysha_Clark) April 27, 2022
If we don’t see Clark in action today, she should be back by the time the regular season begins.