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Well-travelled Russian basketball player ends up in Christchurch, of all places

Of all the places in the world, one of Russia's most well-travelled basketball players has ended up in Christchurch.

Marita Davydova has played in her homeland, the US, Spain even Ecuador but after a chance meeting with a Canterbury player, she's now playing for the Wildcats.

While she was playing in Spain, an opening came up to come down under.

“I asked is there any basketball season - how's it going? is it possible? and here I am,” she told 1 NEWS.

Originally from Moscow the 26-year-old has been an instant hit since arriving last month, even notching 12 points and 19 rebounds over the weekend.

“She's very Russian in her approach to sport, very serious about it, gets after it, very physical, she doesn't really care for vodka but I’m working my way through that at the moment,” coach Lori McDaniel told 1 NEWS.

The former Russian under 20 centre has pedigree.

“My Mum used to be a professional basketball player, my Mum was playing and my Dad was a ref, every single time he'd give her five fouls, so she would remember him,” Davydova said.

Her dad even travelled here in the 1980s with the Soviet Union team as a ref, now she's creating her own kiwi memories.

“I already went to Hamner Springs, Queenstown, stopped by Lake Tekapo and Tekapo hot pools,” she said.

At 6"4 or 193cm, she's a dominant presence although it's her words that are having the most impact.

“In huddles and things she’ll say, ‘hey no10 cannot guard me, give me the ball, give me the ball’, which is not something a lot of New Zealanders would do,” coach McDaniel said.

“I think she yells a bit in other languages when she gets fouls called on her, so the refs don't pick it up which is good,” Wildcats forward Tessa Boagni said.

Her team mates may find her Russian culture stands out on the court, but in many ways she's just like them.

“After that I'll be in Moscow for one day for the concert of Ed Sheeran, all very important information, I really like Ed Sheeran,” Davydova said.

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After a chance meeting with a Canterbury player Marita Davydova’s now playing for the Wildcats. Source: 1 NEWS