It was an event not to be missed, or at least you had to find out as soon as you went to bed, not all basketball fans having necessarily set their alarm for 3:30 in the morning. But some, already on deck, shared their opinions and feelings about one of the attractions of this NBA season. French rookie Victor Wembanyama, 19, number one in the draft and orange ball prodigy, has started what promises to be a long career on American courts. And history will remember that, for his debut, he lost to Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks (126-119). Not a disaster, the NBA regular season comprising 82 matches and the rookie not even being twenty years old. But enough to analyze this first.
The Frenchman's complicated beginnings are symbolized by this title from L'Équipe, which announces a “Bitter premiere for Wembanyama”. The one who measures more than two meters twenty (2m24 to be precise) wanted to “do too much”, defensively in particular, according to the sports daily website. His coach in San Antonio, Greg Popovic, for his part felt that he had “been happy with Victor’s reaction at the end of the match, it shows his strength of character”. A strength of character which should help him for the rest of the season. Ouest France, for its part, returns to the Rookie's statements by signing its front page with “I perhaps wanted to do too well”. An article which explains in particular the defensive difficulties of the native of Yvelines, guilty of four fouls at the start of the fourth quarter. “The worst thing that can happen to a player” according to Greg Popovic, and which forced the versatile young man to spend more time than expected on the sidelines.
Our Figaro site focused on the mixed first performance of Spurs and their star rookie, noting “a mixed first” since despite the defensive difficulties, Wembanyama was still quite skillful in his shooting attempts, scoring fifteen points (6/9). Same story at RMC Sport, which noted “15 points, thrills and a defeat”. The site also notes that "History will remember that he scored his first three-point basket in the NBA after 3'30" of play under the eyes of his family, present in the stands." What we hope will be the first in a long series.
Across the Channel, “The Athletic” gives pride of place to Luka Doncic, headlined: “How Wembanyama’s debut in the NBA was spoiled by Doncic and the Mavericks”. The daily affiliated with the New York Times particularly emphasizes the triple-double achieved by the Slovenian, who led his team to victory with 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. After this first "Wemby" match, all the newspapers seem to agree on one point: despite the incredible expectations around him, let's give the protégé of Greg Popovic (Spurs Coach) time to mature and make his mark in the NBA. To watch the next San Antonio match, against the Clippers, you will either have to get up (very) early or go to bed (very) late, Saturday at two in the morning.
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