We hadn't seen him.
Or so little.
Clumsy, uninspired, Victor Wembanyama had long gone through the meeting like a ghost, far from his usual performance.
But, it is well known, it is in crucial moments that champions speak.
And Wemby, who just turned 19 (January 4), is already a huge one.
By size and talent.
While the Mets were jostled and seemed doomed to defeat due to a controlled end to the game, the Mets jumping prodigy stretched out to recover the ball after a missed shot from Sy and slam a powerful dunk.
He could finally let out his joy and rage after almost forty long minutes of frustration.
This dunk, 3 seconds and 5 tenths from the buzzer, sealed the victory for the Metropolitans against Asvel (84-83),
THE VICTORY SNAP FOR VICTOR WEMBANYAMA AGAINST LDLC ASVEL, HIS FORMER CLUB 🚨🤯🤯🤯 #BetclicELITE #LNBextra @vicw_32 x @Metropolitans92 pic.twitter.com/ktLkvglbII
– LNB (@LNBofficiel) January 9, 2023
The Mets had ended the year with a loss - 84-81 in Strasbourg - so they started the news on a happier note.
But that the fight, against the armada of Asvel, was intense and magnificent.
For a long time the 2,800 spectators - including Grand Corps Malade who immortalized the entrance to the Wembanyama court on his phone, comedian Sami Ameziane, alias Comte de Bouderbala, or even Amélie Oudéa-Castéra the Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games and Paralympics - looked for Wemby on the floor.
The big defense of the Asvel players who follow one another on his saddle - from David Lighty to Youssoupha Fall, and his 2.21 m announced under the height gauge, passing by the explosive Yves Pons who had shone during the dunk competition at the All Star Game at the end of December at the Accor Arena in Paris - prevents Wembanyama from expressing himself.
The best player in the Mets - and the championship - since the start of the season is silent.
He scored his first points on two free throws (10-3, 4th).
The public will have to wait until the 16th minute to see their first two points in the game on a furious dunk (32-26, 16th).
If he does not have his usual performance offensively, Wemby compensates with a good defensive deterrent.
Come to see the arabesques of Wembanyama, the public tasted the powerful dunks of Bandja Sy, the vista of Hugo Besson - author of a sequence of 8 points in a row - and the diabolical address of Tremont Waters (28 points in final).
But after leading the proceedings for three quarters, the Mets slipped at the start of the 4th.
Carried by the genius of Nando de Colo, Asvel seems to be flying towards a 4th victory in a row in the league and secure its place for the Leaders Cup, which will bring together the 8 best teams of the first leg from February 17 to 19, at Saint Chamond.
It was then that Wemby came out of his box to slam this providential and fatal dunk to the players of Tony Parker who, although announced, had remained invisible in the Levallois sports hall.
“We were in the same position as against Monaco by leading for a good part of the match only, this time we did not crack, appreciated Waters at the microphone of BeIN Sports.
We worked well on all the systems during the week and it paid off.
Usually in verve against his former teams - he had accumulated 30 points and 9 rebounds against Nanterre in November -, Wemby finished with 15 points (his 3rd lowest total points this season), 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.
The alien is human but he could boast of having scored the winning basket.
“We made a lot of mistakes, complained TJ Parker, the coach of Asvel.
On Victor's tap we let 3 rebounds pass.
It's not normal.
At + 8 we have to manage better.
We worked well in defense on him but Waters was very good on 1 against 1. We lost against a team that plays one game a week has the time to prepare and the energy to win.
On the last arbitration decision I cannot say what I think…”