WHILE acknowledging their lack of mental toughness, Cebuana Lhuillier coach Boycie Zamar lauded his players' toughness physically while giving Moala Tautuaa special mention after the Gems’ 73-66 loss to Hapee in Game Three of their PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals on Monday.
After the Gems again fell short in a semifinal series in the developmental league, and Zamar felt the Fresh Fighters’ experience and the mental toughness that comes with it spelled the biggest difference.
“It’s all about mental toughness and let’s face it: sanay yung kalaban,” Zamar said. “Basketball is a team effort.”
Zamar, though, said he still appreciated the effort of his wards, who mounted a late comeback that saw them take the lead briefly before folding.
“Proud pa rin ako sa players dahil binigay nila lahat. 'Yun naman ang gusto natin makita.”
Zamar singled out Tautaa, who continued to play through an ankle injury he suffered in Game One last week when he had to be stretchered out and didn’t come back in what the coach felt was an act of “cowardice.”
“Siguro na-misinterpret niya, but I explained it to him,” Zamar said. “And he did his talking on the court.”
After putting up a double-double in Game Two, Tautaa registered 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, five boards, and two assists in 26 minutes.
"Yung ginawa niya, saludo ako,” Zamar said. “Iisang paa na lang eh and he did his part.”
Simon Enciso, who led the Gems’ fightback, also attested to Tautuaa’s perseverance.
“He’s such as fighter,” the Filipino-American guard said. “I respect Mo so much. I’ve learned so much from him. I appreciate everything he’s done. He leaves a hundred-and-ten percent out on the floor and I couldn’t ask for more from him.”