Victor Wembanyama steps into the big blue bathtub

The 18-year-old prodigy from Boulogne-Levalloin, who has been the charm of the start of the season, will mark his first selection for France on Friday against Lithuania (6:30 p.m.) for a place in the 2023 World Cup.

Victor Wembanyama moves through the stages of his young career with disturbing ease. He’s about to take a new step in his wild rise to the top pick in the NBA draft next June. The footballer will mark his first selection for France’s senior team against Lithuania on the 9th and penultimate day of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers (live on France 4 and at 18:30) on Friday 11 November.

“Blue T-shirt, I wore it when I was young”reminded the 18-year-old in a press briefing held on Tuesday Maurice-Thorez Sports Palace in Nanterre, his training club. Victor Vembanyama, a silver medalist at Euro U16 2019 and U19 World Cup 2021, named in the competition’s five bases each time, knows the responsibilities the tricolor jersey entails. “It’s always the same thing, it gives extra motivation: fighting for your country is completely different, it gives you inner energy”he continued in front of a forest of microphones.

Wembi, who was ruled out of the last EuroBasket due to an injury in training, has since made himself indispensable to the French team thanks to a terrible start to the season. Especially during the international window, when Euroleague and NBA players cannot participate because they are on board at the same time.

Best Betclic Elite player in scoring (24.9 avg.) and blocks (2.9), then second in scorer (21.3 points) and rebounder (8.9 grabs), commanded by 2.21m player Vincent Collet he walks on water in the championship and is also a coach. Blues. After that, Boulogne-Levallois is the dolphin of the Monegasque leader with only one defeat in six days. The former Asvel player also used two exhibition matches in Las Vegas to show the extent of his talent in the US: 37 and 36 points against G-League Ignite (A team consisting mainly of young candidates who are also expected in the NBA draft).

Should the young novice expect dominance from the first minutes with the blue shirt on his shoulders? “I will try to include myself in the project, to adapt as much as possible to give the French team two victories.he was upset, tuesday. I will try to bring freshness and existence to the place.”

Boulogne-Levallois player Victor Wembanyama (right) against Blois in Levallois-Perret, October 21, 2022. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

In adults, the task will be completely different. “It’s the first time he’s discovered the French team and it’s still an extraordinary moment for any player, whatever his talent.warned about BeBasket coach Vincent Collett. There is no doubt that Victor has a bright future ahead of him, but this remains a first for him, and it is a difficult task. He will experience an emotional and psychological moment known to all players who have worn this jersey with his first selection.”

His teammates already see in him the qualities capable of progressing in the group. “He can already bring us a lot: he is tall, he can shoot, he can do everything on the field.Lists Andrew Albicy Team. This is an additional weapon that can take the French team to a new level. We’re very happy to have him this week.” “When we see Victor starting the season, it’s important to have him there. It will be the center of our home sector and our game in general, Paul Lacombe continues. I think he can change the game of the French team.”

“He has already done a lot of good work in this window and we can’t wait to see how he can help the team next summer.”

It is still difficult to plan for the next World Cup (from August 25 to September 10, 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines), logically, the player born in Chesnay (Yvelines) will be selected at the top two months later. early. “The France team, I wouldn’t say it’s a central project because it’s a few games a year, but it’s dominant. It’ll always be somewhere in my mind.”he said on Tuesday.

Despite playing a key role in a future NBA franchise, the possibilities with the Blues are most intriguing as the 2024 Paris Olympics approach. His racket connection with fellow giant Rudy Gobert (2.16m) holds some promise. sparks. “He will get a lot of attention because everyone knows his potential and it will free up a lot of space. Andrew Albicy predicts. The arrival of Viktor and other young people in the group is exciting. We’re focusing on this window for now, but when everyone’s there, it’s going to be something…”

The most scrutinized basketball player in France, Europe and even the world will have two opportunities to wear the blue jersey: against Lithuania on Friday and then against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday in Pau (8:30 p.m.). So far, premieres have never scared him.

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