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Rui Machida Makes Winning Debut in WNBA

The Washington Mystics guard played nearly 17 minutes in the team’s first game of the 2022 season.

Washington Mystics guard Rui Machida dribbles in the team's WNBA season opener on May 6 against the Indiana Fever. (NBAE/GETTY IMAGES/via KYODO)

Rui Machida made her WNBA regular-season debut as the Washington Mystics kicked off their 2022 season on Friday, May 6.

Machida came off the bench against the Indiana Fever and logged just under 17 minutes of court time in an 84-70 victory at Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The dynamic playmaker, who helped lead Japan to a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, finished with two points on 1-for-3 shooting, two assists, two rebounds and one turnover.

The 163-cm (5-foot-4) Machida entered the game with 4:36 to play in the first quarter.

With 8:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Machida scored her first WNBA points on a driving finger roll layup. That gave the Mystics a 66-55 lead.

Asked about Machida’s performance in a postgame news conference, Mystics coach Mike Thibault responded by saying, “Good. I mean, she’s just getting out there and trying to figure this out about the different size in the lane. I thought she made some good reads, and the one difference that she’s just trying to get used to is that there is more length on the court defensively, more hands, and she’s just going to have to adjust to that a little bit. But she’ll do that. She’s done it all of her career.”

The Mystics led 50-31 at halftime.

The 29-year-old point guard began her pro career with the WJBL’s Fujitsu Red Wave in 2011. She is the fourth Japanese player to appear in a WNBA game, following in the footsteps of Mikiko Hagiwara, Yuko Oga and Ramu Tokashiki.

Elena Delle Donne paced the Mystics with 21 points.

Machida appeared in one of the Mystics’ two preseason games on April 27, contributing two points and two assists in 18 minutes.

The Mystics are coming off a 12-20 season in 2021, when they missed the WNBA playoffs for the first time in five years.

The WNBA held its inaugural season in 1997.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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