Mo Tautuaa gets ready to seize chance while TNT teammates away on Gilas duty
TNT rookie Moala Tautuaa has put in the work during the PBA break, including weeks of training with Gilas as its back-up naturalized player. Jerome Ascano

MO Tautuaa finds himself in an ideal position to be the go-to guy for Tropang TNT in the PBA Governors’ Cup, at least until the Texters are back in full force as up to four of their stars are expected to take some time off after their stint with Gilas Pilipinas.

With Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, and Troy Rosario all making a case to be in the final lineup for the squad to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month, team management has urged the holdovers to step up in their absence.

“We cannot have that attitude that we’ll just wait for these (Gilas) guys,” team manager Virgil Villavicencio told on Thursday. “We have to work harder now because this is their opportunity to shine. Who knows? And make an extra effort to do extra work after practice.”

“So far, they’ve been responding,” he added.

That could bode well especially for Tautuaa, who can prove he belongs to the squad after the 2015 first overall pick was earlier involved in trade rumors.

“At the end of the day, it’s still a team thing, man, but maybe it’ll give me more playing time and I just expect to produce, just go out there and not necessarily score and do everything, but just to be a better player for what the team needs,” the rookie big man said.

“I did well in the D-League scoring and if it can translate over to the PBA, then I’ll let it be,” he added. “But I don’t just go out expecting to dominate everyone and just completely take over every game like that, but I’m going to do what I can and help the team as much as I can to succeed.”

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The 27-year-old Tautuaa admitted his progress coming into his third conference in the league is not where he pictured it to be.

“I honestly thought I’d come in and be a lot better,” the Filipino-Tongan slotman said. “But playing as a big here, it’s different, because there are different rules here in the PBA. That’s held me back a lot.”

“I can make lot of excuses but I don’t feel like it,” he added. “I just haven’t been doing what I wanted to and haven’t been able to do what I need to for the team, so I just got to make adjustments and be better.”


And Tautuaa knows it’s just a mental thing more than anything else.

“I hope that I can dominate. I want to and I feel like I can,” admitted the 6-foot-7 big man, who has been putting the work early in his practice sessions with Gilas as its back-up naturalized player. “It’s just that I need to find out where I fit and being able to produce in the way that helps the team and not hurt the team.” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos