AS he grabbed an offensive rebound after a missed triple by Terrence Romeo, June Mar Fajardo tried to go for a putback to add to Gilas’ two-point lead – when he saw Mo Tautuaa gather himself to emphatically send the ball back with a little less than two minutes left.
That typified the competition the Mindanao selection gave Gilas Pilipinas last Wednesday – and the other two All-Star teams are expected to give and the national team needs the rest of this PBA All-Star week.
The 6-foot-7 Tautuaa pumped his chest and let out a howl as he denied the reigning MVP, who stands three inches taller than him, on the way to Mindanao forcing a 114-114 draw.
“It was crunch time and we were trying to sneak a win, so we had to give a little more effort and go from play mode to serious mode for a little bit,” Tautuaa said in a quick chat with SPIN.ph a day after the game.
“And here was a little bit of tsamba in there,” the TNT KaTropa sophomore slotman added with a smile.
It’s the Luzon selection’s turn to give Gilas a spirited tune-up on Friday night at the Quezon Convention Center, two days before the Visayas takes a crack at possibly the Final 12 of the national team preparing for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship next month.
But last Wednesday already saw plenty of competition, including one where Tautuaa was also involved and the recipient of a denial from Gilas pool member Roger Pogoy.
As he grabbed a rebound, Tautuaa showed his point guard skills as he went coast to coast in a play highlighted by a behind-the-back dribble. He tried to finish the one-man fastbreak with a one-handed slam, but saw Pogoy come out of nowhere to get a hand on the attempt.
Pogoy smiled as he shook his head after denying his TNT teammate, although he got some skin to commit a foul.
“Tell him get out of the way next time,” Tautuaa said with a smile. “We’re trying to give a show for the people and I just did a cool trick and it’s rare for me to get a fastbreak, and Roger was there in the way.”
“I thought we were kapatid, but instead, he was just a kalaban only,” he added. “All in all, it was fun. But next time, tell Roger just get out the way.”