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Tchouaffe looks to follow in footsteps of “big brother” Batum
PARIS (FIBA U18 European Championship 2016) - Bathiste Tchouaffe looks up to Nicolas Batum and talks regularly with the French senior national team leader. The young French talent hopes to follow in Batum's footsteps and lead Les Bleus to the FIBA U18 European Championship title.
Batum was France's second-leading scorer when they captured the U18 European crown in 2006 - the country's last title in the age group.
Nicolas Batum helped France to their first ever U16 European title in 2004.
Tchouaffe and Batum already have one thing in common. Just like the NBA star did in 2004, Tchouaffe helped France to the FIBA U16 European Championship crown in 2014. And now Tchouaffe is aiming to grab the youth double as well.
"We want to win this and keep this gold medal from the age group," said Tchouaffe, who was named to the All-Star Five of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2014. "We want to win the title. That's my goal. We have to work hard. We have a lot of good players and we are not selfish."
Tchouaffe knows the tournament in Samsun from 22-31 July will be very difficult.
"It will be very hard, but we are ready for this tournament. We are ready for anybody," said Tchouaffe, whose French team will take on Russia, Serbia and Slovenia in Group D of the tournament.
Tchouaffe said he talks regularly with Batum and asks him about various things.
"He’s like my big brother," Tchouaffe said of the 27-year-old Batum. "We talk just about every day. He gives me some experience and tips. He talks to me about the NBA and tells me I have to work hard every day on reaching my goals."
In talks between past players at the much acclaimed INSEP academy, Batum also talked to Tchouaffe about the U18 European Championship.
"He said this tournament is good because there are a lot of scouts from the NBA there and my goal is to play in the NBA," Tchouaffe said.
The Poitiers-native started playing basketball when he was two years old. Both of his parents played the game - though neither at the highest level.
"When I was young I saw my father play and I wanted to play the same as my father," said Tchouaffe, who also played football and practiced judo.
Tchouaffe said his experience in judo has helped him in certain areas, just like his dabbling in the world of 3x3 basketball.
"In the 3x3 game there is a lot of space in the paint and 5x5 is tough because there are strong guys. It's a different game," said Tchouaffe, who claimed third place at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships and won the Shootout Contest.
Last summer Tchouaffe and France took sixth place at the FIBA U18 European Championship. He is looking to jump five places in the final standings this time around and pull even with Batum on European youth titles.