PARIS (AP) — Victor Wimpanyama has bad news for France.
The San Antonio Spurs freshman told L’Equipe that he won’t play for the national basketball team in this year’s World Cup to protect his still-developing body.
It was a “difficult” decision, Wimpanyama said, adding that it was “irreversible”.
The World Cup is scheduled to be held from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
Wimpanyama said he made the decision “on his own” after consulting close friends and his medical team. And L’Equipe newspaper reported on Monday that he had informed the French coach and the other squad players of his decision at the end of the week.
Wimpanyama said he was not under any pressure from the Spurs, adding that the NBA franchise would have supported him no matter what he decided.
If Wimbanyama, the first NBA draft pick, sticks to his decision, that means he won’t play for France in a major tournament until next year’s Paris Olympics.
The 19-year-old wonder who arrived with high expectations was picked by the Spurs to become their new basketball star.
Wembanyama has a lot more buzz than most of its better picks. Listed at 7 feet 4 inches, he led the Ligue 1 in his final season, leading all players in goals, assists and blocked shots.
Wimpanyama said he hesitated a lot and talked about the need to preserve his body, which he had already experienced during a season for the club with BF finalists Boulogne-Levalois Metropolitans 92.
He said going to the World Cup and then playing for the Spurs and following through with the NBA season with the Olympics would have been too much.
“It would be unrealistic in terms of development and reckless in terms of health,” Wimpanyama said. “I hope people understand. It’s frustrating for me too. The France team is still essential. I want to win as many titles as possible with them. But I think it’s a necessary sacrifice.”
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