First appearance this season in the 19th game of the opening
On November 24th (25th Japan time), Yuta Watanabe of the Toronto Raptors made his first official appearance this season against Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Since it was announced on October 6th (7th) that he would miss the second pre-season match with the Philadelphia 76ers on the following 7th (8th) due to “left calf tension” (team announcement). For about seven weeks, he had been out of the battlefield for about a month since the opening in late October, but on this day, which was the 19th game of the season for the Raptors, he made his first appearance after the opening and started his fourth season of NBA. I met you.
Watanabe, who played for about 14 minutes in the middle of the match, scored 3 points, 3 rebounds (2 offensive rebounds), 2 steals, and 2 blocks against the old nest who spent 2 seasons until the 2019-20 season, at 126-113. Contribute to victory. Watanabe appeared at a press conference after the match and answered many questions from the local and Japanese media.
Below is the full text of the questions and answers after the match (the first half is a translation of the questions and answers in English, and the second half is the questions and answers in Japanese).
Everything is the best tonight
–Impressions of the return battle.
Watanabe: It was great because I had been waiting for this moment for a month and a half. The shot wasn’t very good, but I’m glad I won. I enjoyed every moment.
–It was a triumphant return match in Memphis.
Watanabe: Well, it was good to be able to come back here and play against my old teammates. Everything was great tonight.
――I’ve fallen behind due to an injury, but is your goal the same?
Watanabe: The goal is the same as before, and nothing has changed. As long as you play basketball, injuries can happen at any time. I was in good physical care, and although I was in good control of my diet and sleep, I was still injured. That’s it. But the goal hasn’t changed. The desire for the team to contribute to victory and participate in the playoffs has not changed.
――I think you’ve been quite frustrated for the past month and a half, but how was it looking back?
Watanabe: I’m stressed. For basketball players, nothing is more stressful than not being able to play. Under such circumstances, the coaches and teammates always communicated with me, and the trainers took great care of me, and I was able to concentrate on what I should do even though I was not playing, so I am very grateful. I am. The stress was great, but I think it was good that I was able to take a little rest because I had a very busy summer.
–Did you hear from your teammates during the withdrawal?
Watanabe: He always talked to me. He said “Don’t overdo it” and “You don’t have to rush”. I had a strong desire to come back soon, but they encouraged me not to overdo it. Being able to communicate all the time made me feel a little calm. I really appreciate the support in the last few months.
If you have 100 chances, you will fly 100 times
――The block of the 4th quarter, although it has been hurt before, it keeps flying, but about the mentality of the defense.
Watanabe: As I said before, I fly many times. If you have 100 chances, you will fly 100 times. That’s my play. I’m glad that the coach challenged me and succeeded. Hustle, energy, I think that’s what I can bring to the team. If I have a chance, I will continue to fly no matter what. I want to continue hustle and bring energy to the team.
–What is your message to fans who have been waiting for their return to Toronto and around the world?
Watanabe: I’m really grateful for your continued support. Even though I wasn’t able to play, I received support from the fans. I’m really looking forward to playing in front of great Toronto fans.
(Hereafter, Q & A in Japanese)
-(Scene of the block shot in the 4th quarter) About the fact that the head coach used the coach’s challenge which was only once.
Watanabe: I thought that the play before that was also goal-ending. I don’t know because I haven’t seen the clip, but I forgot whether it was the next play or just after that, but personally, there was a part where my play was influenced by the referee twice in a row, so I challenged there. I was very grateful that I was sick. I thought it was a clean block, so I was happy to take on the challenge.
――At first, you thought you were injured in your Achilles tendon, but did you think about it when you realized that you might have to take a rest for a year or more, or did you change your way of thinking about your career?
Watanabe: I thought it was an Achilles tendon, but I didn’t think it was cut. The trainer immediately examined me and said, “The condition of the Achilles tendon is normal,” so I immediately knew that it was a malfunction other than Achilles. The time between the injury and the trainers telling me was so short that I wasn’t wondering if I could play basketball for more than a year. It was just after the first game of the preseason was over and I personally thought I was able to play well, so it’s really possible that this injury could affect my situation. I thought.
-Is it a strain?
Watanabe: The plantaris muscle (of the left foot) was cut. Is it a plantaris muscle rupture?
The two years at the Grizzlies were very important
-Before the match, Nurse HC said, “Even if you don’t score, you’re a player who gives the team a chance to score. I’m expecting it.” I think I was able to play like that today, but how proud are you about that?
Watanabe: I think that the part that was made from last year, such as cutting by myself and finding a good space to make it easier for allies to drive. I think we have earned the trust in that regard. However, I missed a simple shot today as well … I’m grateful that I was evaluated even if I couldn’t score, but I think I have to make more appeal in the scoring part as well. However, today is the first match in a long time, so I hope I can make a firm decision on an open shot like today.
――It was said that it would be nice if you could return because it was a Grizzlies match, but this is the second match at the FedEx Forum (after the transfer). What makes it special to play here?
Watanabe: I hear a lot of opinions from people around me, but I think the two years at Grizzlies were very important. I think I’ve made a lot of preparations in those two years, and I think I’ve grown a lot. I didn’t have much time to play on this court, but it was the first time I was on the court as an NBA player, and it was a place full of memories, so I was deeply moved. When I entered the match, I didn’t think about it because I wanted to play as usual, but after the match was over, I talked to my previous teammates and coaches, and this is a special place that makes sense to me. I reconfirmed that.
――Do you feel that it will always be the case?
Watanabe: That’s right.
–Nurse HC said before the match that Watanabe was “in the best condition during the preseason.” How much do you feel like you’re back today?
Watanabe: The pain in my legs is not completely relieved. It has been cut, so it is said that it will not get any worse. I think this pain will continue to some extent in the future, but I’m recovering as much as I can play, and it was today that I talked well with the trainers (it’s okay). My physical condition isn’t perfect, but I think it’s getting better.
However, since I hadn’t played basketball for about two months, there are definitely some rusty parts such as intuition and shoot touch, so I will fix them firmly in the game and practice in the future. I want to go. I think I was good during the pre-season, and I was quite confident, so I hope I can return to that state and make it even better.
――At the time of the first foul, I closed out, and there was a little contact and I was blown away. How was it sensuously?
Watanabe: I thought I had to do a better closeout. That foul didn’t really affect the game, but I think it’s better not to have such a simple foul, and I should definitely be able to close out better. I felt that the part was still rusted.
I wonder if my body has reached its limit
――I think it would have been a fatal injury (contractually) if you were in a position a year ago, but how do you feel about your position different from a year ago?
Watanabe: Even though my injury was healed, I was honestly worried that I might be involved in the match. I was worried about how far I would be able to be a member of the rotation. I was very happy because I think that the fact that I was able to use this much for about 14 minutes today even though I was injured is proof that I have gained some trust.
Personally, I wanted to play a little better, but above all, I was able to win, and although I was not good at offense, I think I made a good contribution in the defense part, so I also corrected the offense part with this. If you do, I think you will be able to earn even more trust. I would like to reflect on what I reflect on today and connect to the next one.
――I think it was a stressful time during the breakdown, but how did you get over it?
Watanabe: I can’t help being injured. I was definitely able to take care of my body to stay healthy, sleep, and eat, so I thought it would be unavoidable if I was injured by doing that much. I haven’t participated in the Summer League since I was preparing for the Olympics this summer, but the Raptors were practicing quite hard during the preseason, such as going there and working out, so my body was at the limit. I wonder if he was coming.
If I hadn’t had a small injury there, I think there was a possibility that it might have been a bigger injury, such as the Achilles tendon … I was impatient, but I was told “I’m off now.” I thought I was there, so I took a break from where I was resting and tried to be positive about doing other things.
――If you withdraw from an injury, I think you had the feeling that you would return early and not leave a result, but this time the injured withdrawal was in a state where the contract was guaranteed. Was there any difference in your feelings?
Watanabe: This is the first time I’ve left the NBA for such a long time, so it’s difficult to compare with the two-way game. I tried to catch injuries in a good way, not backwards. Of course, I was impatient, frustrated and frustrated that I couldn’t play, but it’s a little (difficult to compare) because it’s the first time I’ve been in the NBA for a month and a half, about two months.
-About the challenge (at the time of the 4th Q block). Did you appeal from Watanabe?
Watanabe: Not at all. I think I’m raising my hand as soon as I’m blown. It was (feeling) that it might have been blown. I didn’t expect to use the challenge over there, so I didn’t appeal to him and thought it was my foul. That was what the coach did, and I didn’t really appeal to him.
🎥 Yuta Watanabe (Raptors), who finally reached his “opening of the season”, made a big move against the Grizzlies in the old nest 🔥 About 14 minutes from the bench, 3 points, 3 rebounds (2OR), 2 blocks, 2 steals Demonstrated defensive power 💪 @wacchi1013 @Raptors #NBA #NBAjp #WeTheNorth #Yuta Watanabe #welcome home pic.twitter.com/KbqhRBi6d7
— NBA Japan (@NBAJPN) November 25, 2021
▶ Watch the match on the NBA Rakuten