FROM his seat on the Barangay Ginebra bench, Japeth Aguilar had seen enough to conclude that Fil-Tongan big man Moala Tautuaa is the real deal.
The 6-9 Aguilar was one of four Gin Kings who sat out a tune-up game against Tautuaa-led D-League side Cebuana Lhuilier on Saturday at the Green Meadows gym, but came away impressed enough to believe that the 6-7 Gems star is a talent 'rare' for his size.
“He’s (Tautuaa) very athletic and very strong. He can run up and down the floor, and athletic siya,” Aguilar said of the prospective No. 1 pick in the next rookie draft after Ginebra's 100-89 win. “Bihira lang 'yung ganun sa PBA, na somebody with his talent, talagang mahirap talaga.
"It only comes rare sa PBA.”
Aguilar said Tautuaa's unique skills also sets him apart from the two No. 1 picks over the past two seasons - June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Ginebra teammate Greg Slaughter.
“Iba-iba rin kasi. But he brings something different to the table. His game is different from other bigs like June Mar.”
Aware that Blackwater has traded its first-round pick to Talk 'N Text, the high-flying Ginebra forward said he feels Tautuaa is a perfect fit for a Tropang Texters team whose weakest point is the center position.
“Since Talk ‘N Text I think will have the No. 1 (pick in the) draft, he’ll (Tautuaa) perfectly fit there. Iyun na lang ang kulang sa TNT,” explained the 28-year-old former Western Kentucky Hilltopper.
Aguilar had the chance to play against the Cebuana Lhuillier slotman during Gilas Pilipinas’ exhibition match with Asean Basketball League (ABL) team Kuala Lumpur Dragons last year.
Tautuaa was then serving as one of the Asian imports for the Dragons under Filipino coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“Iyung trato sa kanya dun (Dragons) is import even when he was playing in the ABL," said the Ginebra forward. "Marami na siyang experience.”