Uichico expects Tautuaa, Rosario to emulate Fajardo's big leap while playing for Gilas
Jong Uichico is hoping the stint with Gilas will fast-track the development of Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario, the way it did for SMB's June Mar Fajardo a few years ago. Jerome Ascano

TALK 'N Text head coach Jong Uichico saw for himself how June Mar Fajardo made the big leap to stardom while playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain.

Now he's hoping Talk 'N Text rookies Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario will do the same soon.

Tautuaa and Rosario are the top two picks in the last PBA Rookie Draft and are certified future stars. But Uichico is hoping their stint with Gilas - Tautuaa as a back-up to naturalized player Andray Blatche and Rosario as the youngest in the pool - will fast-track that process.

"Their training and experience with Gilas will have a big effect on them individually as basketball players coming into the PBA," said Uichico, who is also an assistant to Tab Baldwin at Gilas. "Iba talaga nagagawa nito."

Uichico need not look far to find an example: Fajardo spent his first year with Gilas mostly as a back-up to former naturalized player Marcus Douthit before breaking out of his shell with standout performances both in the World Cup and the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

That form soon spilled over into the PBA, where the San Miguel Beer big man has won the last two MVP awards.

[See The Rise of Troy]

Uichico is confident the Gilas stint will be beneficial for both Tautuaa and Rosario, regardless if they make the Final 12 that will compete in the 2015 Fiba Asia men's basketball championships in Changsha, China two weeks from now.

Both players have great upsides: Uichico described the 6-7 Rosario as a hard worker and a keen learner while Fil-Tongan Tautuaa is so experienced that he is already 'PBA-ready.'

"Bata pa si Troy, pero masipag at gustong matuto. Go hard palagi 'yan (sa practice). Those are the qualities of a player who has the potential to become a good player: coachable at masipag," Uichico said.

"Mo is more experienced. PBA-ready na. Si Troy, he has the potential.  He may not be PBA-ready, he needs more exposure kasi kailangan nya ang laro."

[See This Gilas batch forges unique chemistry - and finds own identity]

Talk 'N Text has three other players in the Gilas pool, namely Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and Matt Ganuelas Rosser who was also impressive in stretches during the Jones Cup campaign in Taipei last week.

Uichico also sees Rosser playing a big role in a rejigged Talk 'N Text lineup, so much so that he has the incoming sophomore undergo regular shooting training under skills coach Drew Dunlop to address the biggest flaw in his game.


"'Yun naman ang na-envision namin kay Matt noon - a utility player like Gabe Norwood who can play the one, two, three spots decently, someone who who can play all three positions," said the multi-titled coach.

His Gilas Five are also bound to benefit from the experience, Uichico added.

"On paper, malakas talaga ang Talk 'N Text. It's just a matter of getting them to play together. Malaking bagay din ito. The more they play together, the better," said Uichico.

"The experience of playing for the national team and playing against system-oriented teams, not necessarily as a team but as individuals, malaking bagay sa kanila 'yon."

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