COUNT Justin Melton among those who believe Moala Tautuaa is the deal deal.
“Yeah, I do,” said Melton, when asked by Spin.ph if he believes the athletic Fil-Tongan player can live up to the hype once he finally makes the jump to the PBA.
Melton knows whereof he speaks, the two having been teammates with the Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) before the high-flying guard was drafted by Purefoods in the 2014 PBA draft.
Now, Melton’s 6-foot-8 former teammate, currently completing a league-mandated stint in the D-League before turning pro, is expected to be one of the top prospects when the next PBA rookie draft comes around.
Based on what he has seen so far in the PBA D-League, Melton said Tautuaa can do well when he decides to join the draft this year.
“I’m not just saying that because he is my friend,” Melton said. “As a spectator, he is just an awesome player. He is all around. He can only get better and I’m excited to see where he goes.”
The high-flying Purefoods guard was in attendance when the Tautuaa-led Rising Suns stunned Hapee Toothpaste, 80-77, last week on their way to their 10th win of the Aspirants Cup.
Judging from what he saw in the game, Melton said he feels Tautuaa has become an even better player compared to their days together in the ABL.
“He has improved. This is the first time I’ve seen him play in a long time and he is expanding his game. I’ve seen him make pull-up shots and a couple of three-pointers,” said the former PBA Slam Dunk champion.
“He has always been aggressive going to the rim and blocking shots. Back then, he was more of an inside and just a hustle player. Now, he is expanding his game. In Malaysia, he can pull up 15-foot shots. Now he can shoot threes.
“It’s very rare for a stretch four that is that athletic. It’s good to see,” said Melton.