Two brothers from just outside of Boston have been the standouts for Malta so far at the FIBA European Championships for Small Countries. Tevin and Aaron Falzon are proud to be representing the nation of the family and want to claim a second straight crown in Dublin
European countries tend to be quite proud of their diaspora, smaller countries even more so. You just need to look at Barack Obama Plaza in Ireland to see how much people from nations that look to punch above their weight love to see the success of those with ties to them.
Tevin and Aaron Falzon never needed any reminders about their heritage. They grew up knowing and loving Malta and when Tevin started to catch the eyes of college recruits as a teenager, it wasn’t long before Maltese eyes noticed his surname.
“We are originally from Newton, it’s a city right outside of Boston. Our grandfather came to the United States from Malta when he was about 18, his whole family moved to New York City. Our last name, Falzon, is really traditionally Maltese,” said Aaron Falzon, the younger of the two brothers.
“Growing up, my brother’s name stood out on a recruiting website and a Maltese guy reached out to him. My brother first played for Malta at U18 when he was 16, I started at the U18 side when I was 14.”
The age gap between them, Aaron is 25 and Tevin is 28, meant there wasn’t much crossover in their playing careers as youngsters and they’ve yet to share a court as pros in the club game. Playing for Malta gives them the chance to line out alongside one another.
“Growing up, me and my brother played together a lot. I kinda grew up playing in his shadow, getting beat up on the court by him and his friends. I didn’t really get a chance to properly play with him until we were in high school, I was 15 and he was 18,” said Aaron Falzon.
“That was really fun and my dad always said his proudest moment was seeing us play together. Just to be out there with your brother, someone who has been your role model your whole life, is special. I don’t take it for granted at all. It’s a fun and cool opportunity to continue to do it and represent Malta while we do it.”
Like his brother, Tevin loves the experience of getting to wear the red and white of Malta while getting to do it with his younger brother.
“It’s definitely an amazing experience getting to play for Malta with my brother, getting to represent a whole nation that is in our blood is special. I don’t take it for granted. We haven’t got to play together a lot throughout our life, but growing up together you know where each other is on the court,” said Tevin Falzon.
“It’s something our whole family and friends can get behind and enjoy watching as well.”BallinEurope has a book, a real life actual book called I Like it Loud, and you can buy it on Amazon now. It’s here as a book and here in Kindle form.
Through the first two games, Aaron is averaging 35 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while Tevin is averaging 14.5 points and 12 rebounds. They know their next two games will be a big step up, with Andorra on Saturday and Ireland on Sunday, and they also know they have to do it without a familiar face.
Samuel Deguara has long been the towering presence in the Maltese front court. The 7 foot 6.5 inch giant has played all over the world and has won medals at four different editions of this tournament with Malta, including gold last time out, but he’s unavailable this time around.
Even without Deguara, Tevin is glad just to be getting some real competitive minutes in.
“This tournament has been fun so far. I’ve anticipated it for quite a while. My professional career has been on pause since 2020 with the whole Covid stuff. Even that season, I only played a month in Iceland,” he said.
“I haven’t really played in this type of competitive real game environment in a long time. Last season my year got cut short in Italy and I didn’t go anywhere because of some family things. Getting the chance to defend our gold, it’s something we really wanted to do and we feel we can do. It’s a hurdle without big Sam but a lot of guys have stepped up. It’s a shame that I can’t see Dublin on my days off because of the Covid regulations but I’m enjoying it.”
After two days of rest, Malta’s final position will be decided over two breakneck days. Andorra (2-1) await on Saturday at 4pm local. Win that, and silver is secured. Then it’s Ireland on Sunday at 7pm, where they will be hoping to go 4-0 and match Andorra’s feat in 2012 and 2014 of securing back-to-back championships.
“We’re really excited to have the opportunity to defend the gold we won in 2018. Obviously we wanted to do it last year but Covid happened and the whole world went on pause. We were bummed out that we couldn’t compete last summer, so when the announcement came that it was going to be held we were super excited to get the opportunity to play together again,” said Aaron Falzon.
“Of course, the team is a little different but it is a unique group and I really like playing with it. The way everybody fights, everyone has stepped up and played a bigger role. We’ve really bonded the last couple of weeks.”
A big thanks to both Tevin and Aaron Falzon for doing the interview over WhatsApp in order to comply with Covid protocols at the tournament.