Mo Tautuaa admits falling short of big test against June Mar Fajardo in marquee match-up
Mo Tautuaa held his ground against June Mar Fajardo with a conference-high 20 points in TNT's loss to SMB. Jaime Campos

ANTIPOLO City – Despite playing his best game in the PBA Philippine Cup Saturday night, Mo Tautuaa admitted ‘failing the test’ of his marquee match-up with June Mar Fajardo.

The sophomore big man kept pace with Fajardo after firing a conference-high 20 points in an effort that unfortunately went down the drain as TnT Katropa dropped a 98-94 loss to defending champion San Miguel at the Ynares Center here.

Fajardo also finished with 20 points and was a monster on the boards with 22 rebounds and three blocked shots as he anchored the Beermen’s ninth straight win for a league best 10-1 record at the end of their elimination round campaign.

In as much as he managed to hold his own against the only player to win the MVP trophy three straight times, Tautuaa still consider himself a failure against Fajardo.

“June Mar is always a good test. He’s a bigger guy, he’s tall, he’s good around the basket. Going up against him is always fun that I see it as a challenge,” said Tautuaa, who also had three rebounds and finished with a 9-of-15 shooting from the floor.

“But we lost so I failed the test.”

[See Clutch Cabagnot lifts SMB past TNT]

The Texters capped the elimination with a 6-5 record and lost the chance of earning the no. 2 seed in the playoffs, which could have given them a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

Tautuaa, however, held his head high as he considered the loss a good opportunity for the Texters to regroup and bounce back a better team in the playoffs.

“It’s a wasted opportunity. Sayang,” said the top pick of the 2015 rookie class. “All we can do is prepare for the playoffs, see where we’re seeded and work from there.

“The good thing is we have a chance to redeem ourselves, get back to the gym, and continue working.”

[See Racela sticks to positives as TNT gives mighty SMB a scare]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos