Victor Wembanyama dazzles as France prepares for Paris Olympic Basketball event

Victor Wembanyama stole the spotlight with spectacular one-handed dunks as France began its preparations for the men’s basketball gold medal bid at the Paris Olympics. The Kia NBA Rookie of the Year was all smiles after scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing six rebounds in a 96-46 victory over Turkey on Wednesday night in Rouen.

Wembanyama’s performance in front of a sold-out crowd of around 5,500 was the first of six warm-up matches for France ahead of the Olympics, which run from July 26 to August 11. “Victor played a ‘Wemby game.’ He was imposing in defense and varied things in attack. It’s something we’ve never really known before in the France team,” said team captain Nicolas Batum. “It’s a great asset for us, one we will be able to use in many situations.”

The 20-year-old San Antonio Spurs star also showed great chemistry with veteran Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert. The 32-year-old Gobert, who was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for a record-tying fourth time, played alongside Wembanyama for the first time with the national team. “There’s still work to be done,” Batum said, looking ahead to the Olympics. “But when you have two greats (Wembanyama and Gobert), it helps a lot.”

Washington Wizards rookie guard Bilal Coulibaly also impressed with his defensive performance. France, which lost 87-82 to the United States in the gold-medal game at the Tokyo Olympics, has high hopes of winning gold at home. The team is considered one of the strongest contenders, alongside the U.S., Canada, Serbia, and world champion Germany.

Victor Wembanyama is eager for a potential rematch against Team USA, featuring stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry. “I can’t wait to face them, it will be a very interesting matchup,” he said in Paris. “As a basketball player, it’s also a dream to play against Team USA and even against all those players, all those legends.”

France’s first Group B opponent at the Olympics will be the winner of the last qualifying tournament later this week. The team will then face Japan and Germany in the 12-team field, held in Lille.

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