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After Asi, now comes Tautuaa

Second Fil-Tongan big man to hit PBA shores next season

TAUTUAAThe next PBA Rookie Draft is still nine months away, but Fil-American forward Moala Tautuaa Jr. has his sights already on becoming the top overall selection out of the amateur ranks.

“I’m coming for No. 1, anything short… I’m definitely coming for No. 1. That’s the point,” said the bearded 6-foot-7 Tautuaa, who is set to debut for Cagayan Valley in the PBA D-League on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Tautuaa recently played for the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) where he averaged 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in his only season in the league.

He was born in the “Friendly Islands” of Tonga, but the Criminal Justice degree holder grew up in San Francisco when his parents, Moala Tautuaa Sr. and Romanita – a Filipino who hails from Taguig City – migrated in the US.

Tautuaa said he brings passion and excitement to the game.

“I’m a team guy and I like to play team ball so hopefully I can bring that,” said Tautuaa when asked what he can be expected of him once he makes the jump to the PBA, adding he is not concerned where he lands.

“As long as I get in, that’s the ultimate goal for me. I know it’s a big deal here and that they care about their basketball. I hope to come here (in the PBA) and help it grow,” added Tautuaa, who played for Chadron State College – a Division II school in the US NCAA.

Tautuaa, who was selected No. 1 overall by Cagayan Valley, is hoping to lead the Suns to their first finals stint in the D-League, something he wants to do before he turns pro.

He said his motivation is his failure to win a championship in the ABL when the Dragons lost to the Hi-Tech Bangkok in the Finals.

“I got a chip on my shoulder because we did lose,” said Tautuaa. “Every time I step on the court, I go for number one. I’m just going to push as hard as I can. It’s going to be the same story here.”

NLEX center Asi Taulava, also from Tonga, joined the PBA in 1999 and blazed a trail for his compatriot.