Photo source: FIBA website
The Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats have provided their fans with some early Christmas cheer by announcing the signing of Russian forward Marita Davydova ahead of the 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC).
The former Russian Under 20 representative, who will add depth to the Wildcats roster and in particular boost their forward stocks, is looking forward to her time in New Zealand.
“My Dad was in New Zealand in the 1980’s when he was accompanying the Soviet Union national team as a referee. He has told me many stories about the country, some Maori traditions and his time in Wellington. He has many black and white photos from that trip and says it is a wonderful place to visit.
“Traveling is a big passion of mine. I have watched so many movies and programmes about New Zealand so I am really excited to be heading your way soon.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of New Zealand is the famous haka that is performed by various New Zealand sporting teams around the world. It is a real symbol of New Zealand sport.
“The second thing that I know about New Zealand is the kiwi bird. I love nature and I hope that while playing in New Zealand I will see this bird,” says Davydova who has been playing basketball since she was 10 years old.
“I began playing at my school Trinta. We became champions of Moscow and Russia many times in different age categories.”
The 6’4”forward went on to attended Moscow State Agriculture Academy. She then transferred to Florida International University for her final two collegiate years and played 61 games in her two seasons with FIU averaging 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Since graduating from Florida International in 2015 Davydova has played professionally in a number of countries.
“I started my pro career playing for a first division team in Spain. I also played two years for four-times EuroLeague champions Sparta&k Vidnoje. Last summer I played in the Ecuador League and this season I have returned to Spain to play for Rioje.”
Davydova has represented her country on numerous occasions. In 2010 she played at the FIBA U17 World Championship in France and subsequently represented Russia at the U18 and U20 European Championships.
“We were runners-up at the U20 European Championships in 2012 and in 2015 I was a member of the team that won a bronze medal at the World Student Games in Korea. I also participated in the first FIBA 3x3 U18 Word Championship.”
Naturally Wildcats Head Coach Lori McDaniel is looking forward to welcoming a player as well credentialed as Davydova.
“The Wildcats team and the Canterbury Basketball family looks forward to Marita’s arrival next year. It’s always a bonus for us to have someone of Marita’s experience and passion for the game joining our programme.
“We look forward to seeing her impact on the boards, in the paint and in the community,” McDaniel added.
The WBC Tier 1 competition promises to be an exciting affair in 2019. Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, Auckland Dream, Harbour Breeze, Taranaki Thunder, Waikato Wizards and defending champions Otago Gold Rush will play three games each on the opening weekend of the competition in Christchurch, 10-12 May.
Thereafter the six teams will play a minimum of three home games to complete the 10 game regular season. The competition will reach its climax with a finals weekend at AUT, on Auckland’s North Shore, 4-6 July.
In the past two seasons Americans Ashley Gayle (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats), Dana Goularte (Otago Gold Rush) and Lyndi Laborn (Taranaki Thunder) have appeared in the WBC, but Davydova will certainly become the first Russian player to have played professionally in the New Zealand women’s premier competition.
With 2018 Tall Ferns Penina Davidson, Deena Franklin (Harbour Breeze), Charlisse Leger-Walker, Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato Wizards), Natalie Taylor (Auckland Dream) and Nicole Ruske (Otago Gold Rush) already committed to their respective teams for next season, the 2019 WBC is shaping to be the strongest and most competitive in recent years.
More WBC signings are expected to be announced early in the New Year.