IT’S like a virtual pre-draft showcase for the two consensus top two picks in the coming PBA Draft.
Before they vie for to No. 1 overall selection in the Rookie Draft on August 23, Troy Rosario and Moala Tautuaa will be teammates in the Gilas Pilipinas pool.
While Rosario has been showing his skills for two weeks now, Tautuaa is set to take part in the national team practices to act as a naturalized player backup for Andray Blatche.
“We want to go in now with Mo,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said after practice on Tuesday night. “We have spoken to his people and he thinks the idea of being part of Gilas is exciting for him.”
Baldwin said Tautuaa could make the roster in case Blatche, who has been battling jetlag and recently diagnosed with prostatitis, can’t make it.
“Obviously, (Tautuaa) can’t play in the roster if Andray is playing, but if something happens to Andray, that’s the direction,” the former New Zealand national coach.
The 6-foot-7 Tautuaa is ineligible to play as a local as the Filipino-Tongan cager failed to secure his Philippine passport before he turned 16, a requirement by Fiba.
Tautuaa, though, could play as the Gilas Cadets’ reinforcement in regional competitions like the Southeast Asian Games and the SEABA Championship in place of aging Marcus Douthit.
“We probably won’t use Andray (in the SEA Games and Seaba). Tautuaa will kind of slide into Marcus’ role and I think that’s exciting for Gilas basketball,” Baldwin said.
Tautuaa, coming off a one-month break in the US, is one of two badly needed additions to the pool along with Marc Pingris, who’s also fresh from his vacation in France.
“We really want his (Tautuaa’s) body in here,” Baldwin said of the D-League Foundation Cup MVP.