Former coach Vanguardia says Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa fits Talk 'N Text to a T
Malaysia Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia is reunited with former player Moala Tautuaa. Dante Peralta

MOALA Tautuaa’s former coach hopes his player would be picked by Talk ‘N Text in this year’s PBA Draft.

Ariel Vanguardia believes Tautuaa is a perfect fit for the Tropang Texters, especially since the flagship team of the MVP group now in a rebuilding mode and in need of quality big man that can match up with the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Greg Slaughter.

“I hope Talk ‘N Text ang makakuha kay Mo (Tautuaa) dahil they are rebuilding. Eksakto kung makapasok siya doon and I know it will be a good franchise for him,” said Vanguardia, Tautuaa’s coach when he played for the Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).

Vanguardia was at the Ynares Sports Arena stands when Tautuaa’s Cagayan Valley Rising Suns defeated the powerhouse Hapee Fresh Fighters, 80-77, in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday.

Incidentally, a host of Talk ‘N Text officials led by head coach Jong Uichico, consultant Tab Baldwin, team manager Jimmy Alapag, and even PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio and governor Ricky Vargas were also on hand to watch the Hapee-Cagayan Valley game.

[See Alapag settles into new job, scouts for top talent in D-League]

Incidentally, the MVP group, which also includes Meralco and NLEX, owns five first-round picks in the next PBA rookie draft, giving it a good chance to land blue-chips like Tautuaa, Ray ray Parks and Chris Newsome.

Talk ‘N Text’s lack of big man was a liability during its PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against eventual champion San Miguel when the Tropang Texters were swept by Fajardo and Co.

Although the 6-foot-6 Tautuaa is smaller than the likes of Fajardo, Vanguardia said the Fil-Tongan’s versatility can make up for the size disadvantage.

“I’ve seen him guard bigger players. I’ve seen him guard quicker guys. Naglaro siya ng three (small forward), four (power forward), and five (center). Sa PBA, kaya niya mag-four and even five,” Vanguardia said.

“Although he is more of a four, kung wala siyang kasamang June Mar or Japeth or Greg, kailangan niyang mag-five,” said Vanguardia, incidentally a former coach of Talk ‘N Text.

[See Source: TnT ready to trade Jayson Castro for KIA first-round pick in PBA draft]

In that game against the Fresh Fighters, Tautuaa finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks - proof that the Fil-Tongan is starting to get used to the physicality of Philippine basketball, Vanguardia said.


“Nakaka-adjust na rin siya sa physicality. I think this (against Hapee) was one of his better games. First half, medyo gigil pero nung second half, nag-settle down,” said Vanguardia.

“Siguro na-pressure din kasi siya na nanonood ‘yung Talk ‘N Text at ‘yung ibang teams,” he added.

[See Hapee bruiser Ola Adeogun brings out the best in Tautuaa]

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