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CaféFrance tests Fil-Tongan rookie

Games Today (Ynares Arena, Pasig City)
12 noon – Tanduay Light vs Cebuana Lhuillier
2 p.m. – Cagayan Valley vs CaféFrance
4 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs Wangs Basketball

All eyes will be on overall top pick Moala Tautuaa today as the newest Fil-Tongan player debuts today for Cagayan Valley in the PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Whether he’s good as advertised will be known at 2 p.m. when the Rising Suns square off with the CaféFrance Bakers in a battle between two unbeaten teams in the 12-team tournament.

With both teams toting similar 3-0 cards, the winner will tie Hapee Toothpaste (4-0) for the lead.

Out to spoil Tautuaa’s debut are former Letran bruiser Jam Cortes, La Salle center Yutien Andrada and Cenrto Escolar University standout Rod Ebondo.
“It’s gonna be a challenge for them,” said CaféFrance Coach Egay Macaraya.

The arrival of the 6-foot-5 Tautuaa has deepened Cagayan bench and that worries Macaraya ever more.

“They (Rising Suns) always play tough. With the arrival of Tautuaa, we have to work double time if we want to maintain our unbeaten record,” Macaraya added.

Tautuaa missed the team’s first three games due to his commitment with the Westports Malaysia Dragons, who were then playing in the finals of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

In Tautuaa’s absence, Michael Mabulac and Jeson Melano impressed the coaching staff with their solid plays.

“I hope I can help the team more, give them more depth,” Tautuaa said. “I bring passion to the game. I bring excitement. I want to bring the team closer. I’m a team guy and I like to play team ball so hopefully I can bring that.”

Tautuaa is hoping to follow the footsteps of Asi Taulava – also a Fil-Tongan – who won the PBA MVP in 2003.

Meantime, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum hopes to rebound from its heartbreaking defeat to CaféFrance last week when it takes on Wangs Basketball at 4 p.m. while Cebuana Lhuillier and Tanduay Light clash at 12 noon. (Christian Jacinto)