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Victor Wembanyama is excited to take on NBA rivals like LeBron James at the Olympics

Playing in front of their home fans, France is regarded as one of the top teams, alongside the U.S., Canada, Serbia, and Germany.

PARIS — Victor Wembanyama, who faces off against some of the NBA’s biggest names with the San Antonio Spurs, is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to represent France at the Paris Olympics.

The NBA Rookie of the Year spoke on Thursday about the potential for a France-USA final and the prospect of competing against basketball legends like LeBron James and Stephen Curry for the gold medal in his hometown.

“I’m really looking forward to facing them; it’s going to be a fascinating matchup,” Wembanyama expressed during a press conference in Paris. “As a basketball player, it’s a dream to go up against Team USA and all these great players and legends.”

In the final of the Tokyo Games three years ago, the U.S. defeated France 87-82. This time around, however, France boasts the presence of Wembanyama, a 20-year-old making his Olympic debut and considered the standout star of the French squad, commanding attention both on and off the court.

“I believe this is the pinnacle competition for any athlete. But I’m going to approach it like I do everything in my life: with joy in playing the sport,” Wembanyama remarked. For France coach Vincent Collet, having both Wembanyama and fellow NBA standout Rudy Gobert, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, is a significant advantage in disrupting opposing offenses.

“To achieve our dream, we must show exceptional defense,” said Collet, who will receive assistance from newly appointed Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Victor Wembanyama celebrates during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in San Antonio in April.

France, despite never securing an Olympic gold medal in basketball, is gearing up for its first full practice session in Paris scheduled for Friday. They have a series of six warm-up matches lined up for July. The team will skip the Olympics’ opening ceremony on July 26 as their first match is slated for the following day in Lille, 135 miles north of Paris, where the initial phase of the 12-team tournament will unfold.

“Victor would arrive in Lille around 3 or 4 in the morning if he attended the ceremony. That would disrupt his preparations for the Games,” noted Fabrice Canet, a spokesperson for the French national team.

France’s first opponent is yet to be determined and will be the winner of the final qualifying tournament next week. The host nation is set to face Japan and reigning world champions Germany in Group B.

With the advantage of playing in front of their home supporters, France is viewed as one of the strongest contenders, alongside the likes of the U.S., Canada, Serbia, and Germany.

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