Q&A with Lynx Guard Hamchétou Maïga-Ba


Lynx guard Hamchétou Maïga-Ba (Hahm-Sha-to My-Ga Ba) is one of the more interesting people on the team’s retooled roster. And it’s not just her name that catches your attention; the 8-year veteran hails from the Central African country of Mali, she’s won a WNBA championship with the Sacramento Monarchs in 2005, wears No. 99 and plays with a frantic energy and hustle that’s won her league-wide respect.

I stopped by Lynx practice on Friday and got to know Maïga-Ba a little better.

DZ: You’ve been here for a few weeks now after coming over from (playing overseas in) France and you’ve played a few games, what are your impressions of the team and area?

MAIGA-BA: I would say it’s better than what I expected. I knew it was a very talented group…I am definitely happy to be here.

DZ: You guys have lost two in a row now, what do you need to do to turn it around?

MAIGA-BA: We’ve just got to finish it up, get better at our killer instinct. I feel like we play well for like (pauses) - in this league you are not going to win right away - you have to grind it out. That’s what in the last game (in Seattle on May 19) I feel like we could have done better - and take care of the ball. Just doing the little things will make a difference for us.

DZ: When you see a veteran team like Seattle, is that what they do?

MAIGA-BA: Yeah because they know each other and we are trying to figure each other out. They have been together for many years now, so they never let down so that’s what we have to build on. It’s going to take a couple of games, but hopefully we get it sooner than later.

DZ: You were a free agent this last offseason, what attracted you to the Lynx?

MAIGA-BA: I had a couple of other teams (interested), but at the same time, but I liked the Lynx - watching them and playing against them - they have a young group, very talented and I was hoping I could bring something to the team. Seeing what the team was made of and coach (Cheryl) Reeve calling me and telling me what she expected of me made the difference.

DZ: Obviously, you are from Mali - with your busy schedule how often do you get to visit home?

MAIGA-BA: I go home at least once a year at the end of the WNBA season.

DZ: You come from a very large family (15 children), did that help you become more competitive?

MAIGA-BA: In a way, yeah because - we didn’t all play basketball, some played soccer, but it was also in school. It was competitive, we all wanted to get good grades, so yeah.

DZ: Coming here from Africa, what are some of the biggest misconceptions you think Americans have about Africa?

MAIGA-BA: Honestly, when I first came here I used to get very frustrated because (laughs) Americans, honestly you guys (pauses) - Africa is poor. I personally come from a country that is very, very poor - one of the poorest countries in Africa. It’s peaceful, we have lights, we sleep in the house, we have high buildings and all of that. At first I used to get offended - I had a teammate from Africa and she told (Americans) that a giraffe is what wakes her up and they believed her. So, it was like, “OK, we are not stupid and stuff!” But, that’s what they show on TV - the jungle that you guys only see. So, that was one of the biggest things, but it’s OK.

DZ: The last couple of years you’ve played with the Comets and Monarchs, what was it like seeing those teams basically disappear?

MAIGA-BA: It was tough, definitely. Houston had a lot of history behind it and so did Sacramento. I was there for two years, so I kind of liked the place. I wish (the team) was still there more than anything because for me Sac is home in the U.S. It hurts to know that the team is gone.

DZ: You won a championship there (in 2005), do you think you’ll have any reunions?

MAIGA-BA: Yeah, we are still in touch. We talk and stuff and that’s never going to be taken away from us. That’s one of the best parts about basketball; you meet people and you keep those relationships on and off the floor.

DZ: One last thing, you wore No. 9 (in Sacramento) and then you came here and Quanitra (Hollingsworth) had it, is that why you took No. 99?

MAIGA-BA: Yes, in a way. She was very nice, she (would have) given me 9 if I wanted to. I am Muslim and Allah has 99 names and I feel like she deserves to keep 9 because she is young and I wore 99 before in Houston.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Lynx players and coaches:

May 15: Cheryl Reeve
April 29: Monica Wright

2 Responses to “Q&A with Lynx Guard Hamchétou Maïga-Ba”

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