Mo Tautuaa finally showed San Miguel what he’s capable of after leading the way for the Beermen in their skid-ending win over Terrafirma Dyip in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Monday night.
The 6-foot-8 big man played his best game yet in an SMB uniform, finishing with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. He also had six rebounds, three assists, and a block in their 105-98 victory.
“They contributed in this game, especially Mo. That’s the thing we’re missing in our team — the threat of a big man in the post,” said head coach Leo Austria moments after the game.
“Kanina pinakita ni Mo.”
According to the decorated bench tactician, he and the team have been encouraging the five-year pro to play to his strengths, which includes making good use of his size and skill from the post.
It’s not that he doesn’t want him to take perimeter shots, clarified Austria. But he would prefer Tautuaa position himself effectively, so he’s happy Tautuaa did just that versus the Dyip.
“Before the start of the bubble, talagang we told him, ‘This is your role, go to the post’ because of his habits before na he could take his shot in the perimeter. But I’m not taking away his shots. What I want from him is he has to play through his strengths and advantages, especially against a team who cannot handle him on single coverage,” Austria explained.
“Coach has been talking to my ear this whole time,” quipped Tautuaa, meanwhile, in the walk-off interview.
“He’s making sure that I assert my dominance. We’re missing June Mar down here, and that’s my position.”
But more than anything, the Fil-Tongan cager is just glad they have bagged their first win inside the bubble. For him, it means plenty, given the challenges they’ve faced this early in the season.
The reigning, five-time Philippine Cup champs lost another player in Terrence Romeo last Saturday. The former three-time scoring king left the bubble after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
“It feels good to win, you know, finally getting over that hump. You’ve heard our story, and we’re kinda struggling at the moment, but we’re putting the pieces together. And Coach is working with us, and we’re making the best of it.”