The French Federation of Basketball is breathing easier after phenom Victor Wembanyama confirmed he will play for the home country in next year’s Olympic Games.
The 7-foot-1-inch teenager didn’t play for France in the FIBA World Cup that ended two weeks ago. Although France was ranked 5th in the world entering the tournament, they were unceremoniously bounced in the opening round after winning just one of three matches in group play. A 30-point loss to Canada being the low point of the tournament for the French.
With the FIBA World Cup debacle behind them, attention is clearly focused on Paris 2024. France won’t be the favorites, even at home, but Wembanyama told the French press their objective is clear.
“Performing well at the Olympics would be a great story,” he told L’Equipe. “I’ll be present at the Olympics, and there’s no other goal than gold.”
France won the silver medal at Tokyo 2020, losing by five to the U.S. in the gold medal game. It was their best showing since they also took silver in Sydney 2000.
Still, the FIBA World Cup was such a letdown French national team veteran and Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum said he was “ashamed and scared to go home.”
Wembanyama, who will soon make his NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs, opted to prepare for the upcoming season.
“The World Cup was very disappointing,” he said. “But I have no judgement to make as I wasn’t there.”
No doubt an Olympic gold medal on home soil will more than make up for it.