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'Butterflies' for Wemby ahead of NBA debut

SAN ANTONIO: French teenager Victor Wembanyama admitted to having «butterflies» on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) as he prepared to make his regular season NBA debut for the San Antonio Spurs.

The gifted No.1 Draft pick will be the center of attention across the league on Wednesday (Thursday) when he takes to the court in San Antonio's home game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The talented 19-year-old is widely regarded as a once-in-a-generation player, tipped to have the same kind of impact on the NBA that LeBron James had when he landed in the league 20 years ago.

Wembanyama has taken the soaring hype in his stride, showing no sign of stage fright in a series of sparkling pre-season performances for San Antonio.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday on the eve of his debut, the 7 ft 4 in (2.25 m) tall teenager acknowledged some nervous excitement as his personal D-Day approached.

«Some butterflies in my stomach, like I have before every match, depending on what's at stake,» Wembanyama said.

«But it's not like I'm shaking either — just a little stomach ache.»

Wembanyama's debut will be the realization of a lifelong dream for the Frenchman, who said he had been thinking about playing in the NBA for «as long as I have memories.»

While pre-season had given him a taste of what to expect in the NBA, Wembanyama said making his regular season start still felt «unreal.»

«I thought a month ago that some pre-season games would prepare me for this moment, but it's totally different,» said Wembanyama, who has set himself a goal of winning «as many titles as I can» with San Antonio.

«I know it's something you don't easily do, most players have a career and never make it to the finals or win championships,» Wembanyama said.

«It's one of my biggest goals in life, so I know I'm gonna reach this, one day or the other. I'm dedicating the next, I don't know how many years of my life to reach this. I'm ready to sacrifice anything.»

Wembanyama averaged just over 19 points a game in four pre-season appearances for San Antonio, but believes he still has not demonstrated the full range of his skills.

«I know nobody has seen my best so far,» he said.

Wembanyama revealed he had been on a steep learning