Ejection of Cagayan coach Alvin Pua fired us all up, says Moala Tautuaa
Coach Alvin Pua was sent off with still two quarters to play but Moala Tautuaa and the Rising Suns rose to the occasion. Jerome Ascano / Jaime Campos

WHILE the loss of Cagayan Valley coach Alvin was a blow, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Rising Suns.

That’s what Moala Tautuaa felt after the Rising Suns romped to an 82-74 win over Jumbo Plastic on Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Marikina Sports Center.

“It was a blessing and a curse,” the Filipino-Tongan big man said. “We needed our coach. That’s who we look up to when things go down.

“But it was a blessing because it showed our character and we didn’t crumble,” added the top PBA prospect, who fired 16 points after going scoreless in the first half.

Pua was ejected before the start of the second half following a physical contact with a referee during an argument over a call before halftime.

It’s nothing new for the fiery Pua.

“He fights for us and that’s why I respect him,” Tautuaa said of Pua. “And that kind of got us fired up.”

True enough, the Rising Suns’ seven-point halftime lead ballooned to 17 points, 58-41, near the end of the third quarter that proved enough to weather a late fightback by the Giants.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos