ASI Taulava's decision to sign up with San Miguel Beer in the Asean Basketball League has ruined Westports Malaysia Dragons head coach Ariel Vanguardia's plan for the former PBA MVP to mentor another up-and-coming Filipino-Tongan which the Kuala Lumpur-based team had just recruited.
Vanguardia’s KL Dragons, which lost to the Beermen in the semifinals of the last ABL season, were among the three teams that tried to secure the services of Taulava, who ditched a two-year contract extension from his PBA mother team Meralco to sign up with the Beermen.
Vanguardia had hoped Taulava would serve as a mentor to Moala Tautuaa, a 6-foot-7, 237-pound product of Chadron State Eagles, a US Division II school, who was recently signed to a one-year deal by the Dragons.
Discovered by former PBA cager Pongky Alolor, Tautuaa, nicknamed “Mo,” was born in San Francisco, California to Moala Tautuaa Sr, a native of Tonga, and Romanito Tautuaa, who was born in the Philippines. He holds dual citizenship and therefore owns a Philippine passport.
“Sayang twin towers sana namin silang dalawa kung nakuha namin si Asi. At the same time maganda sana dahil for sure marami siyang matututunan kay Asi,” said Vanguardia of his newest Asean import.
Under ABL rules, teams are allowed to separately recruit imports from Asean countries and imports from other countries.
Vanguardia, a former assistant coach at Talk ‘N Text in the PBA when Taulava led the Phone Pals to the 2003 All-Filipino Cup title, said Alolor showed up with Tautuaa in one of his tryouts for the Dragons in San Francisco, California recently.
Tautuaa, 23, led the Eagles in scoring (12.0) and rebounding (5.0) during his final year in college and was named to the RMAC East Division Second Team and to the Nebraska Division II First Team.
As a senior high school student at Clairmont High, Tautuaa normed 21.0 points and seven rebounds.
Aside from Malaysia and the Philippines’ San Miguel Beer team, reigning ABL champion Indonesia also tried to recruit Taulava as its Asean import, according to Taulava’s agent Sheryl Reyes.