Basketball

Tokashiki earns spot with the Seattle Storm

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Japan ace Ramu Tokashiki has made the Seattle Storm’s opening-day roster, the WNBA club announced Thursday.

The 23-year-old Tokashiki, who signed with the club in April, will become the third Japanese player to ever don a WNBA jersey. Mikiko Hagiwara played for the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs and Phoenix Mercury in the late 1990s and Yuko Oga spent the 2008 season with the Mercury.

Tokashiki, a 191-cm forward, averaged 9.5 points (second on the team), 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in two preseason games with the Storm. She guided the JX-Eneos Sunflowers of Japan’s WJBL to the championship in all five seasons she was with them and earned league MVP honors twice.

Tokashiki helped Japan win its first Asian Championship in 43 years in 2013 and received the tournament MVP accolade. She averaged 17.1 points per game during the event.

“(Tokashiki)’s not afraid, and she’s a competitor. Those are things you really can’t teach,” Storm’s first-year head coach Jenny Boucek told The Seattle Times after last week’s preseason game in which the Japanese blocked a shot of Mercury star Brittney Griner.

Tokashiki, a Saitama Prefecture native, is one of five rookies for the Storm along with Jewell Loyd (2015 first overall draft pick) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2015 third overall pick)

Seattle, which features star guard Sue Bird, finished sixth in the Western Conference with a 12-22 record last year.

A two-time WNBA champion, Seattle will open its season at home on Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks at KeyArena.