The Mercury thought it had turned a corner with three consecutive wins at the end of June, only to be sidetracked by a rough start to July.
Thankfully for Phoenix, Marta Xargay happened to become available during that time frame. The 5-11 guard, who played 20 games for the Mercury last season, was a late addition after honoring her commitment to the Spanish national team earlier this summer. Now, the backcourt figures to be further strengthened with her combination of defense and playmaking.
“She really gives us that tempo that we needed at both ends of the floor,” said Head Coach Sandy Brondello. “She’s a very good defender.”
That much was apparent in her debut on July 8 at Indiana, where Xargay had a steal to go along with her six points (3-3 FG) and two assists in 22 minutes of action. Her performance was impressive given that she had signed with the team earlier that same day.
“She got off the plane and we threw her right out there and she has played great for us,” Brondello said.
Her impact didn’t stop there. Two days later, Xargay was Phoenix’s best reserve, logging 15 points and five assists in 24 minutes against Indiana. She had the only positive plus-minus (+8) on the team in the narrow, 100-95 defeat.
The Spanish guard’s arrival is fortuitous for the Mercury, who are dealing with the temporary absence of Penny Taylor. The Australian playmaker has not played since June 26 due to a hip injury, and she is grateful for that Xargay’s arrival has helped cushion the blow.
“I love Marta, in particular, how solid and steady she is,” Taylor said. “She seems very composed out on the court. I love her answers and her solutions to problems. She’s got a good all-around game.”
Xargay knows that playing time and roles could change depending on Taylor’s return and the individual performances of Phoenix’s other talented players. She is happy, however, to contribute whenever and however needs dictate on a night-to-night basis.
“I’m going to try to help the team in any way I can,” Xargay said. “I can be more aggressive on defense, be a plus on the defensive end. I have to shot, I’ll shoot. Whatever the team needs.”