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Victor Wembanyama, the NBA’s new No. 1 draft pick, gave an interview to the French newspaper L’Equipe. Wembanyama announced that he will definitely play in next year’s Paris Olympics: “Of course, I will participate in next year’s Olympics. Performing well at the Olympics would be a great story. My goal is only the Olympic gold!”

When talking about this year’s World Cup performance of the French team (ranked 18th), Wembanyama said: “I watched this year’s World Cup games, and the result was very disappointing! However, I am not worried, because I was not on that French team, and it will not affect our performance at next year’s Olympics!”

In November 2022, Wembanyama played for the French team in the World Cup qualifiers. He played four games, averaging 19 points and 8.3 rebounds. At the end of June this year, after the NBA draft ended, Wembanyama withdrew from the 2023 Basketball World Cup. He will focus on his NBA rookie season and next year’s Paris Olympics.

Next year’s Paris Olympics, the French team is the host and automatically qualifies for the Olympics. The French team is the runner-up of both the 2021 Olympics and the 2022 European Championship, losing to the US team and Spain respectively in the finals. This year’s World Cup, France was also a favorite to win! As a result, they went 1-2 in the group stage and did not even make it to the top 16!

In addition to Wembanyama, French legend Parker was also very disappointed! Parker said: “Not making it out of the group stage is a shame! I talked to Batum for more than an hour on the phone, and it was unacceptable to be eliminated in the group stage! If Embiid and Wembanyama join the team, other cornerstone players will have to leave, which will have a big impact.”

In January 2018, Parker publicly opposed the naturalization of Embiid for the French team: “I’m not against Embiid, but he’s not a native Frenchman!” Now that the French team is performing poorly, Parker’s attitude has changed. Now that Wembanyama has confirmed his participation in the Olympics, it remains to be seen what Embiid will choose, after all, the US team is also trying to get him!

Victor Wembanyama confirms his participation in 2024 Olympics for France

In July 2022, Embiid became a French citizen; in September 2022, Embiid became a US citizen. He currently has Cameroonian, French and American citizenships and has not decided which team to play for. FIBA rules that players who obtain citizenship after age 16 are considered naturalized players. In a world competition, a team can only have one naturalized player.

Unlike Embiid, Wembanyama is a native Frenchman. He was born on January 4th, 2004, is 2.24 meters tall and has a wingspan of 2.44 meters. He practiced soccer and taekwondo as a child, but had to switch to basketball because he quickly grew over 2 meters tall. In October 2019, Wembanyama started his professional career in Ligue A (French first division), when he was not yet 16 years old.

In the 2022-23 season, Ligue A regular season, Wembanyama averaged 21.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. He won both MVP and DPOY of the regular season. In the playoffs he averaged 17.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. This year’s NBA draft, Wembanyama was unsurprisingly selected as the No. 1 pick! He played two games in the summer league, averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per game.

Can Wembanyama become the savior of the French team? Last year’s World Cup qualifiers, he averaged 19+8, which is already FIBA’s top-level center level. As a comparison, this year’s World Cup Gobert averaged 10.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and two turnovers per game. Gobert’s offensive skills are too poor compared to Wembanyama.

Now we just wait for Embiid to make a decision. Do you think he will choose the US team or the French team? If Embiid also joins the French team, Gobert + Wembanyama + Embiid do you think the US team can handle it?

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