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With Fajardo out, Tautuaa aims to earn ‘respect’ in the paint



Tiebreaker Times With Fajardo out, Tautuaa aims to earn 'respect' in the paint Basketball News PBA  San Miguel Beermen PBA Season 45 Mo Tautuaa 2020 Phoenix Super Basketball Tourney 2020 PBA Philippine Cup
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Mo Tautuaa and coach Leo Austria spoke with each other on the sidelines moments after San Miguel’s match versus Alaska in the Phoenix Super Basketball Tourney, Friday.

The Beermen had absorbed a 79-81 defeat to Vic Manuel and the Aces, ending their campaign in the pocket tournament winless. San Miguel lost all of its three assignments.

“He’s just telling me what he wants me to do and what he saw good in the game, and what he wants me to continue to work on and improve,” shared Tautuaa, who had 12 points in the loss.

“So, nothing negative,” the 6-foot-8 forward-center furthered.

“Just making sure that we’re on the same page and he knows. And he expresses what he wants me to do for this team.”

Tautuaa arrived in San Miguel in October last year after the NorthPort Batang Pier traded him to the Beermen for Fil-German bruiser Christian Standhardinger in a one-for-one deal.

Back then, Austria said that the Fil-Tongan big man is not just a perfect reliever for June Mar Fajardo. Tautuaa can also play alongside the league’s reigning five-time Most Valuable Player.

But now, Tautuaa’s role with San Miguel has gotten a lot bigger. Fajardo has been ruled out for possibly the entire season after suffering a fractured tibia in his right leg.

All eyes are now on the 30-year-old to see how will he live up to the expectations, especially in the season-opening Philippine Cup, where San Miguel looks to extend their reign to six.

That may bring pressure on his part, but Tautuaa feels determined to grow and improve, since he knows that it will only lead to better things for the league’s most successful team.

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“I’m gonna get better. I gotta continue to grow in the paint and become a bigger threat in the paint, and I will. I know I have it in me and I’m gonna do it,” said the first overall pick of the 2015 Draft.

“It’s obviously not going to be a seven-foot person down there in the paint, but it’s going to be someone they gotta respect. Once I earn that respect this conference, our team will flourish.”