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Victor Wembanyama steals the show with 24 points for France in Olympic preparation training

Victor Wembanyama, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, stole the show in France's Olympic warm-up game.

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PARIS (AP)Victor Wembanyama stole the show with spectacular one-handed dunks as France opened preparations for its bid for the gold medal in men's basketball at the Paris Olympics.

In a promising sign for the future, the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year beamed after his powerful two-handed dunks in the 96-46 victory over Turkey on Wednesday night. He looked great as he scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds in front of a sold-out crowd of around 5,500 in Rouen.

It was the first of six warm-up matches for France before the games from 26 July to 11 August.

“Victor played a 'Wemby game'. He was impressive in defence and varied in attack. That's something we've never seen in the French team,” said captain Nicolas Batum. “That's a big advantage for us that we can use in many situations.”

The 20-year-old San Antonio Spurs star also meshed well with veteran Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert in their first appearance together for France. Gobert, 32, was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for a record fourth time, with Wembanyama finishing second in the voting.

“There is still a lot to do,” said Batum, looking ahead to the Olympics. “But having two big guys (Wembanyama and Gobert) helps a lot.”

The defense by Bilal Coulibaly, the Washington Wizards’ rookie guard, was also impressive.

France lost the gold medal match to the USA 87-82 at the Tokyo Olympics, but hopes are high that coach Vincent Collet's team can win gold at home. France is one of the strongest teams alongside the USA, Canada, Serbia and world champions Germany.

Last week, Wembanyama was asked about the prospect of another France-USA final against the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

“I can't wait to play against them, it will be a very interesting duel,” he said in Paris. “As a basketball player, it's also a dream to play against Team USA and even against all these players, all these legends.”

France's first opponent in Group B at the Olympics will be the winner of the final qualifying tournament, which takes place later this week. France will then play Japan and Germany in the 12-team field, which will be played in the northern French city of Lille.

French basketball is enjoying enormous popularity thanks to Wembanyama's meteoric rise and the emergence of new talent.

The two top draft picks in the NBA this year are the Frenchmen Zaccharie Risacher (Atlanta Hawks) and Alexandre Sarr (Washington Wizards). Tidjane Salaün was drafted number 6 by the Charlotte Hornets.

France is the only country besides the USA whose three players were among the first ten picks of an NBA draft. A total of five French players were selected: Pacome Dadiet (New York Knicks) and Melvin Ajinca (Dallas Mavericks).