Hard to know what to remember until after the victory of the French basketball team (90-65) in Lithuania, Friday, November 11. The reason would be that it is the qualification almost achieved for the Basketball World Cup 2023 thanks to this great success, but the heart forces us to stop at the great debut in the selection of the tricolor prodigy Victor Wembanyama, who reacted to the present and boasts its entire technical palette.
If the 18-year-old, 2.21m strong winger – heavy favorite to go No. 1 in the next NBA draft in June – takes the glorious path promised to him, then posterity will remember that it is for the Panevezys, for some 150 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, he began a successful international career.
Symbolically, it was he who scored the first two points for the Blues shortly after a minute played, with a smashed tap to erase his second missed shot in a row.
“I wasn’t nervous at all”
The Boulogne-Levallois player probably came to the bench at the end of the match with a sense of duty fulfilled, despite the preferential treatment he received from the Lithuanians, who somehow tried to limit his influence and compensate for their lack of size in group catches. The young Frenchman makes a very correct statistics sheet for a first place in the tricolor shirt: 20 scored points, 6 successful shots out of 13 and 9 rebounds in 24 minutes of play,
Damien Inglis for Victor Wembanyama 🤯 #TeamFranceBasket | #PassionatelyBlue | #FIBAWC | #LTUFRA https://t.co/LvIaUc7lBP
The French number 32 made some spectacular gestures, like this acrobatic push in extra time after a missed 3-pointer from Andrew Albicy (8)e), or this dribble left hand to finish the right hand (29e). He also necessarily mobilized defenders to free up space as on this little felt pass between two Lithuanians for Inglis (19.e) before he tries his luck from distance, the match progresses (winning shot in 28e for a record of 1 successful shot of 2 to 3 points).
“I wasn’t nervous at all”declared Victor Wembanyama at the end of the meeting. “I really wanted to win the game tonight. We all had a lot of fun”added the one who declared before the match that he wanted to go first “to adapt and get to know the FIBA senior level”that is, the international level.
The fit was express, as was its trajectory for a few months. The French coach, Vincent Collet, was thus able to exhale at the end of the match in anticipation of the appointment, on Monday in Pau, against the Bosnians, which could allow the Blues to punch their ticket to Southeast Asia, where the World Cup will take place from August 25 to September 10 (Philippines, Indonesia and Japan).
A success that inspires
If Vincent Collet’s team delivers the same score as the one recited against Lithuanians, who are too limited without their players playing in the NBA and Euroleague, then it will be a mere formality. Because France generally rolled out, even diminished and with five players out of twelve honoring their first cap.
She quickly made a first hole (11-4, 5e) after a basket of fouls converted by Damien Inglis, one of those neophytes. The gap then gradually increased thanks to a good defense, a dominance inside – especially thanks to Wembanyama – and a Sylvain Francisco on fire behind the line (21 points on 5/5 on 3-pointers).
The game was folded in the middle of the third quarter after just an award-winning shot from the leader of Peristeri in Greece, the game’s top scorer, followed by a counterattack from Axel Toupane (62-41, 26)e), one of the experience elements chosen to oversee this team of “rookies”.
This success allows the Blues to take the lead in Group K with 16 points ahead of their tonight hosts. And makes you want to see the Wembanyama phenom and his teammates again on Monday.