HE may be a backup plan, but Moala Tautuaa is relishing the opportunity to join Gilas Pilipinas practice as he continues his preparation for the PBA Rookie Draft on August 23.
The Filipino-Tongan slotman, who was brought in as a backup in case hurting naturalized center Andray Blatche can’t play, sees it as a gauge of his readiness against pro players.
“I’m a Plan B, but I’m excited,” Tautuaa said. “I’m not looking at it as a negative thing.”
“I guess it’s it a way to get my foot on the door with the PBA,” the reigning D-League MVP and former Asean Basketball League import added. “It’s a good transition from ABL, D-League, to the PBA.”
“Now, it’s getting ready for the PBA and that’s what I’m doing here.”
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin lauded Tautuaa for attending even though the projected lottery pick’s chances of making the roster depends on the health of Blatche.
They Said It!
“The willingness to help is there, and that's more than enough. Unlike guys who are capable but opted not to do their part. Or should I say their management?" - Jr Pajarillo
“It’s an example of another kid making a sacrifice that he doesn’t have to make to be here,” Baldwin said of the 26-year-old cager. “So I’m proud of him and I’m excited to have him and I look forward to developing a relationship with him and coaching him much more.”
Baldwin was relieved to see an extra big man on the court apart from overworked veterans Asi Taulava and Sonny Thoss.
“Sonny and Asi are really happy to see them,” Baldwin said. “I’m really happy for them that Mo was out there.”
“He did a really great job tonight,” Baldwin added of the fast-learning Tautuaa. “Our training tonight was designed to be a review to help him get up to speed. He learns things very quickly. I’m really happy to have that extra body.”
Tautuaa admitted he has a lot of catching up to do in terms of conditioning after coming off a vacation in California for more than a month.
“This is training for me,” he said. “It’s a good way to get my legs and lungs ready for the draft.”