Difficult to know what to remember first 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 acquired for the Basketball World Cup 2023 thanks to this great success, but the heart forces us to stop on the great debut in the selection of the tricolor prodigy Victor Wembanyama, who responded present and flaunts its entire technical palette.
If the 18-year-old, 2.21m strong winger – big favorite to be the number 1 in the next NBA draft in June – takes the glorious trajectory that is promised to him, then posterity will remember that it is to Panevezys, to some 150 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, he began a successful international career.
As a symbol, it was he who scored the first two points for the Blues shortly after a minute of play, with a smash tap to erase his second missed shot in a row.
“I was not nervous at all”
The Boulogne-Levallois player probably joined the bench at the end of the match with the feeling of duty accomplished despite the preferential treatment he received from the Lithuanians, who somehow tried to limit his influence and make up for their lack of size by group catches. The young Frenchman makes a very correct statistics sheet for a first in the tricolor jersey: 20 points scored, 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 tap in extension after a missed 3 points from Andrew Albicy (8e), or this dribble left hand to conclude right hand (29e). He also necessarily mobilized defenders to free up space like on this little well-felt pass between two Lithuanians for Inglis (19e) before trying his luck from a distance, the match progressing (winning shot in the 28e for a record of 1 successful shot on 2 to 3 points).
“I was not 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 first “adapting and getting to know the FIBA senior level”that is to say the international level.
The adaptation was express, like its trajectory for a few months. The French coach, Vincent Collet, was thus able to breathe it out at the end of the match in anticipation of the appointment, Monday in Pau, against the Bosnians, which could allow the Blues to punch their ticket for 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 that recited against Lithuanians who are too limited without their players playing in the NBA and the Euroleague, then it will be a mere formality. Because overall France unrolled, even diminished too and with five players out of twelve who honored their first cape.
She quickly made a first hole (11-4, 5e) after a basket with fault converted by Damien Inglis, one of these neophytes. The gap then gradually increased thanks to a good defense, a domination inside – in particular thanks to Wembanyama – and a Sylvain Francisco on fire behind the line (21 points at 5/5 at 3 points).
The match was folded in the middle of the third quarter after, precisely, an award-winning shot from the leader of Peristeri in Greece, the game’s top scorer, followed by a counter-attack from Axel Toupane (62-41, 26e), one of the elements of experience chosen to supervise this team of “rookies”.
This success allows the Blues to take the lead in group K with 16 points ahead of their evening host. And makes you want to see the Wembanyama phenomenon and his teammates again on Monday.