MOALA Tautuaa might have finally played the breakout game local cage fans have been waiting for, and interestingly did it while battling Nigerian import Ola Adeogun.
Finally meeting his match, at least in terms of height and heft, the Fil-Tongan top pick in the D-League rookie draft started slow but found his rhythm late to help carry Cagayan Valley over Hapee in a battle of unbeaten teams in the D-League on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
“You know, it was the first time I felt the real hits,” Tautuaa admitted when asked about his match-up with Adeogun. “I finally matched up with a guy my size.”
“It was an eye opener,” said Tautuaa, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.
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The Rising Suns improved to 10-0 win-loss at the expense of the Fresh Fighters, who lost in the final game of the elimination round before the two teams move to the semifinal round.
Tautuaa admitted playing against Adeogun wasn’t easy.
He only scored five points in the first half but picked it up in the third by tallying 15 in helping the Rising Suns trim a 41-30 deficit down to 61-58.
As for Adeogun, the Nigerian center had a relatively good outing of 10 points and six rebounds in his match-up against Tautuaa.
“I struggled in the first half but got it together toward the end. I stopped playing soft and started playing aggressively,” Tautuaa said.
The return of Cagayan Valley head coach Alvin Pua from a three-game suspension was also a big boost for the Rising Suns.
“It’s good to come together as a team. It’s a team thing. It’s also good to have our coach back finally. We fought back as a team,” said Tautuaa.