The 25-year-old Grizzlies small forward/shooting guard and the 21-year-old Wizards power forward, who are both members of the Japanese national team, met at a game in Memphis’ FedExForum on Saturday, according to Commercial Appeal.
Memphis won the game with a score of 128-111.
Their meeting marks the very first time in NBA history where two Japanese players played against each other in a regular season game.
“It felt extremely weird,” Watanabe said. “I never imagined playing against a Japanese opponent. He’ll probably continue to get more minutes as a starter. For me, my time on court is contingent on how much better I can get.”
— Rui “Louis” Hachimura 八村 塁 (@rui_8mura) December 15, 2019
Even though the two players only played against each other for a little over a minute, they still had a face-off in which Hachimura made a shot while Watanabe contested. After the game, the two athletes reportedly swapped jerseys.
“It was only a little time, but I think it’s great to make such big history,” Hachimura said. “I think we’ll be playing against each other a lot in the future, so even though it was short it was good to experience.”
Watanabe is already in his second and final year of a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. This means the basketball player goes back and forth playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and its G League affiliate, Memphis Hustle.