Mo Tautuaa missed the last three practices of Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 due to a bum stomach.
Looking to make up for lost time, the 6-foot-8 Fil-Tongan was all ears for everything from head trainer Stefan Stojacic and his Serbian crew — namely Marko Brankovic, Nebojsa Kilijan, and Vladimir Trajkovic.
“I’ve been sick. I’m grateful that the coaches have been lenient with me and allowing me to recover before getting back to the court,” expressed Tautuaa.
“They are really nice guys and they really want to help us. All of them, they are trying their best to communicate with us and tell us how to do things. They are really helpful, and I’m glad that they are here.”
For his part, Tautuaa has done his homework Stojacic’s accomplishments in the 3×3 world.
Just 31 years young, the Serbian already has a World Cup gold and a World Tour MVP under his belt. And Tautuaa, an eight-year pro, feels honored to have some like Stojacic coaching him.
“He is Mr. Robot for a reason.
“Being a robot means you don’t stop — that means he is pretty good. So if I can anything be like Coach Stefan, the better it will be for us,” said Tautuaa.
However, Tautuaa’s 3×3 game has yet to be polished.
Multiple times during the tune-ups, the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist got lost on defense, resulting in either a free lane or a wide-open deuce.
He himself knows this, admitting that the role of the big man in the 5-on-5 game and 3×3 is very different.
“Protecting the rim is not really a thing in 3×3. It’s just bringing another big body and help even out the playing field for us.”
With just a few weeks left before the 2020 FIBA 3X3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Bangalore, India, Tautuaa looks to finally get a complete week of 3×3. This, as Stojacic and his men are about to return home on Thursday.
“Right now, I’m just looking today, tomorrow, and the next day. I hope by the time of the OQT, we are ready to go by then,” Tautuaa said.
“But as far as everything goes, I’m just worried about today and tomorrow. Get my rest today and get better tomorrow.”