CHICAGO -- Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner had to remind themselves they were playing in a showcase and not a real game. On Friday night, as they represented the Wizards in the Rising Stars Challenge, both were tempted to do things they are known for but that don't generally fly in an exhibition.
For Hachimura, that was his midrange shot. In the second quarter, he drove right and pulled up for a 15-footer. It was the type of move he makes several times a game for the Wizards. But in the Rising Stars game, no one shoots midrange shots.
"It was funny. In the game, I shot a midrange and they were like 'no, no midrange, only threes and dunks.' But I'm like, that's my game," Hachimura said.
Wagner had several opportunities to do what he does best; take a charge. In the third quarter, on back-to-back plays Warriors rookie Eric Paschall drove right at him. Wagner could have squared up, set his feet and taken the hit. Instead, he wrapped Paschall up for a foul.
Wagner, though, admitted he thought about it.
"I would have in a real game," he said. "I would have never taken it [in this setting]."
Though they were on the losing side with Team World, both Hachimura and Wagner fared well on the All-Star stage. Hachimura had 14 points as a starter and Wagner had 16 off the bench.
They came away from the experience appreciative they were able to represent the Wizards and also their home countries.
"I'm just proud of myself and proud to be Japanese," Hachimura said. "I think a lot of people were watching in Japan. I just want to grow basketball in Japan."
"[It hit me] when I saw my flag," Wagner said. "Germans are not like Americans like super patriotic... it was cool."
Hachimura and Wagner are a testament to the globalization of basketball. Now it is commonplace to have stars hail from countries all over the world.
Hachimura was the first Japanese-born player to participate in the Rising Stars game. He was also the first player from the country ever drafted in the first round.
Basketball's international growth was on display during a timeout in the first half when Wagner along with other players on Team World kicked a basketball around in a circle. They had clearly all grown up playing soccer, which is the No. 1 sport in most countries, including Germany.
"That was amazing," Wagner said. "I bet only two or three American players could do that... I was probably the worst one at it."
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