MOALA Tautuaa easily reminds Jimmy Alapag of a smaller version of Asi Taulava after personally seeing the Fil-Tongan in action during the PBA D-League recently.
The recently retired cager watched Tautuaa as he starred in Cagayan Valley’s showdown against Hapee Toothpaste in his capacity as new team manager of the Tropang Texters.
Asked by Spin.ph what was his impression of the versatile big man, Alapag said Tautuaa definitely made an impact on him especially after leading the Rising Suns to a victory over the Fresh Fighters in a battle between unbeaten teams in the Aspirants Cup.
“He was dominating,” said Alapag, recently named as the 2014 Sportsman of the Year by Spin.ph.
“His physical presence and his ability to put the ball on the floor, his three-point ability, and athleticism -- he really made his presence felt in that game.”
The way he’s been playing, Tautuaa is readily gaining comparisons to Taulava, the first Fil-Tongan player to step foot in the PBA. The 41-year-old Taulava was Talk ‘N Text’s direct hire in 1999 who went on to win the Most Valuable Player award in 2003, the same year when Alapag was adjudged Rookie of the Year with the same frachise.
Alapag said he definitely sees some shades of Taulava in Tautuaa.
“A little bit,” said Alapag of his former teammate and close pal.
”He is not as big as Asi. I think Tautuaa is about 6-foot-7. Asi is a legit 6-foot-9. I don’t think he is as heavy as Asi. I was fortunate to play with Asi during his prime and during his MVP year. But there are similarities in power, speed, and athleticism.
“He is a little bit of a smaller version of Asi,” Alapag said.
Only recently, Ariel Vanguardia, who coached Tautuaa with the Westport Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), admitted the Fil-Tongan could be a good fit for Talk ‘N Text especially with the team obviously lacking in ceiling.
Alapag declined to reveal whether the franchise is eyeing Tautuaa in this year’s Rookie Draft, although he did emphasize he (Tautuaa) will definitely be a plus to any team that would pick him.
“It’s too early but again I think, obviously, big guys in the PBA don’t come around too often especially right now with June Mar and Greg really the two legit 7-footers in the league.
“He obviously makes things interesting once he gets to the PBA. I think he would help us or he would help any team for that matter,” said Alapag.