27 July, 2019
04 August
20 Malcom Cazalon (FRA)
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Dynamic duo with Begarin instead of Three Musketeers for France star Cazalon

PARIS (France) - Malcolm Cazalon made history last summer at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 as part of a terrific trio tabbed unofficially the Three Musketeers. Now the France wing will form a dynamic duo with Juhann Begarin at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2019.

Cazalon teamed up fellow 2001-born stars Theo Maledon and Killian Hayes in helping Les Bleuets reach the U17 World Cup Final - the greatest finish for France in the history of the competition. Neither Maledon nor Hayes will be on hand in Volos for the U18 continental tournament, but the Roanne native Cazalon is ready for more glory with his country.

"I will have more responsibilities and will use the opportunity of course. I can't do everything because we are a team with very good players who can handle the roles that Theo and Killian left open - me being one of them of course," said Cazalon, who averaged 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.0 steals at the U17 World Cup.

The 1.94m (6ft 4in) guard learned a lot from the thrilling run to the Final last summer.

"It was a very enriching experience for me," he said. "This was my first international competition, so I was able to play against the best players in the world in my age group."

After going undefeated in their first six games in Argentina, France never really threatened United States in the title bout, losing 95-52. And Cazalon remembers that bitter performance, in which he totaled 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes.

"I believe this loss was very painful, but it also motivates us for the FIBA U18 European Championship. We want to redeem ourselves," he said.

Instead of playing alongside Maledon and Hayes - in a trio that combined for 54.6 percent of France's points at the U17 World Cup, 34.7 percent of the rebounds, 62.1 percent of the assists, 57.1 percent of the steals and 47.5 percent of the team's blocks - one of Cazalon's main running mates in Greece will be 2002-born Begarin, who was recently named the MVP of the Basketball Without Borders Europe camp.

"Juhann is a very, very good player who will do us good. I'm sure it will be a treat to play with him this summer. On top of that we are similar," Cazalon said of Begarin, who averaged 15.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.3 steals as France finished fourth at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2018.

France will come into the U18 tournament looking for their fifth title in the age group - the last one coming in 2016 with the 1998-born generation, which also won the U16 title in 2014. This France 2001 generation will also be shooting for the U16/U18 double.

"It's true, they often compare us to the 1998 generation," Cazalon said of the France group of Frank Ntilikina, Killian Tillie, Bathiste Tchouaffe, Elhadji-Digue Diawara and Adam Mokoka. "They have accomplished great things. We are trying to follow their path."

Cazalon actually missed France's run to the U16 European crown in Montenegro in 2017 with a knee injury. And that makes the U18 tournament that much more exciting for him.

"I've been waiting for this (U18) European Championship since the end of the (U17) World Cup," he says with a smile. "We all want to win the gold medal. This is the objective. We will do everything for it."

Last summer it was as part of Three Musketeers for Cazalon, but this year he will have to make it happen as part of a dynamic duo.