Victor Wembanyama, decisive at the end of the match in a crazy atmosphere, won his first victory in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs against the Houston Rockets (126-122 after overtime) on Friday at home.
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This is a new milestone in the French prodigy’s career in the NBA. Victor Wembanyama, brilliant during a crazy end to the match in a melting arena, snatched his first victory with the Spurs against Houston (126-122), Friday October 27, in San Antonio.
After equalizing at 111 and defending with energy to go into overtime, “Wemby” shone during the five extra minutes and capsized the San Antonio public, who dream of returning to the top with their 19-year-old French jewel.
“I’m proud of what we did tonight. It surprised me to want to celebrate in the locker room, it’s only a victory, but it’s a day I will remember,” launched the Frenchman at a press conference, author of 21 points and 12 rebounds, his first “double-double”, accompanied by an assist, two interceptions and three blocks.
“You had to sacrifice yourself for the team”
In the center of San Antonio, where the showers have continued since the beginning of the week, locals were able to attend, Friday evening, the annual parade planned in advance of the Day of the Dead, a colorful celebration at the heart of Mexican tradition and neighboring US states.
Around 18,000 people skipped the parade to fill the Frost Bank Center and celebrate, not a flower float, but the immense Victor Wembanyama (2.24 m), and they had no regrets.
Everything started badly, however, with a messy match on both sides, Wembanyama without three-point skills (0 out of 6) and often placed on the bench by his coach Gregg Popovich.
Houston even made a small gap during the fourth quarter, before the Spurs finally woke up, in the wake of the Frenchman, notably author of a spectacular double counter on Jabari Smith Jr to reverse the trend.
“You had to sacrifice yourself for the team, not to think, it’s instinct,” he commented.
“It’s a victory of desire. We saw that the ‘momentum’ changed in the fourth quarter. Collectively we completely changed the situation. Individually I wanted it, badly.”
Wembanyama snatched overtime by driving an opponent for a basket near the circle, before fighting on the rebound and winning a decisive jump ball. Then he immediately set the tone for the end of the match with a mid-distance basket, two “clutch” actions according to NBA vocabulary, rare for a beginner.
“All my life I have preferred the end of matches, where I feel better. But it is also an area of improvement, to be able to contribute to the team from the start. Let’s say that we must at all costs push team to the top, I can’t afford to show a bad face if I want to help this team win.”
Triggered by a dunk in the last period, the “Wemby, Wemby!” then continued to descend from the stands. The enamored fans were not the only ones to scream at the Frenchman, who received a memorable blow from his tempestuous coach one minute from time, a symbol of his imperfect match.
“I forgot a system. It was a small mistake, it was completely legitimate for him to shout at me, I apologize,” he said, smiling.
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This second match, a very good example of the immense work that awaits the Spurs to return to the top, launches the Frenchman into his NBA adventure after his inaugural defeat against Dallas on Wednesday, during a meeting which had been marred by numerous mistakes on his part (15 points, 5 faults).
San Antonio now has an appointment on Sunday in Los Angeles to face the Clippers, an opponent of a priori higher caliber than Houston, where his teammate in the France team Nicolas Batum plays.