Yuko Oga, who had been taking part in a team tryout with the 2007 title-winning Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, has made the team’s 2008 official roster, the club said Friday.
The 25-year-old Japanese national team point guard is on the final 12-member squad ahead of Phoenix’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday.
Oga becomes only the second Japanese player to join the WNBA following Mikiko Hagiwara, who played with Phoenix and Sacramento in 1997-98.
“This is only the starting point, but I am very excited that I was able to attain my goal of joining the WNBA,” said Oga, who drew the attention of scouts during the national championship this year.
Oga will play a key role for Japan in the final Olympic qualifier for Beijing next month in Madrid.
Earlier this week, Mercury coach Corey Gaines, in his first year at the helm, said he was impressed with Oga’s natural ability.
“She’s very fast, very aggressive,” Gaines told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune. “She does what we do automatically. Her first instinct is always to attack.”