MM All-Star Matthew Bryan-Amaning is headed east for the 2016/2017 season to play in Japan’s top professional league for Rizing Fukuoka. The move comes on the back of Bryan-Amaning’s most successful season as a pro, which saw him lead 2 teams in both Mexico (Soles de Mexicali) and then Argentina (San Lorenzo) to their respective finals, winning a title in Argentina, while averaging 15ppg alongside 6rpg.
The surprising move brings an end to the growing speculation around where the multi-talented British big man would sign, and represents a new chapter for MBA as he continues to build upon an already impressive pro career. As the ink dried on the contract, MM’s Swarzy Macaly caught up with MBA for first comments on his ambitious new move:
SM: Congratulations on the new move Matt, everyone here is so excited for this next step in your career! What made you ultimately decide on Japan?
MBA: Thanks Swarz – It’s been a busy summer with a lot of back and forth with a lot of teams in so many different regions, my agent has been busy! (laughs). We had a lot of interest from South America and Europe and it looked like I was heading back to Europe until Japan really stepped up with an offer we couldn’t refuse. It’s also a good opportunity for me to help a new team hopefully win another chip in a league a lot of players are trying to get into.
SM: Absolutely! You’ve definitely been leading the way as far as opening new doors for British players in leagues around the world no domestic player had played in or made any type of impact in before. Has that been a conscious choice on your part or has it just been a case of you pursuing the best opportunity?
MBA: It’s been a bit of both to be honest. I’ve played (NBA) summer league for a couple summers now and while I’ll always be open to any good opportunity to make a final roster in the league (NBA), I’m a pro at the end of the day and this is my job so I’m going to go out and do the best I can every day to make sure any team I’m playing on, wherever that may be, gets the best of my abilities to help them win. If I’m not in the league, I’m open to playing wherever the best opportunities may be and think through my career so far, I’ve been able to open up some eyes for coaches around the world who maybe didn’t know British players can do what we are capable of. I also talk to a lot of the younger players about options in playing in leagues they maybe never considered before. When you’re a pro, you have to be ready to go.
SM: MBA as a mentor! We love that! What do you know about the Japanese league and what are your expectations for the season ahead?
MBA: It’s a good league. It’s in transition from being the BJ League into now just the B League which is now merged with FIBA and will mean the top teams from the league can go and play in the FIBA Asia competitions. The level of import players is good too, so I’m expecting it to be competitive from the start. We play a lot of games (ED: 60 in the regular season) so I’m sure I’ll adjust to the style of play pretty quickly and I’m looking forward to the challenge. The goal is always to win a championship, which I’ve been able to do at my last two teams.
SM: On behalf of the whole MM team we wish you major success this season and as always will be checking in with you each week to keep everyone updated with your progress as you break new ground in Japan!
MBA: Thanks to you and the whole team for the support and just to say – I want to shout out my big bro Flo (Dzaflo Larkai) who played pro and won chips in Japan before me. Hopefully I can continue what he started.
You can stay up to date with every step of MBA’s season in Japan with the new season of About To Go In – featured each week on midnightmadness.tv from late September.
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Photo Credit: Nat Dodman