Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) top rookie Moala Tautuaa said that he is very much willing to play for Gilas Pilipinas in any international competitions.
The 6’8 American born Filipino-To¬ngan Tautuaa, who is expected to become Talk ‘N Text’s first overall pick in the PBA rookie draft on August 23 in Robinson’s Place Manila, will join Gilas Pilipinas in the Estonia tournament next week and Jones Cup in Tai¬wan on August 29 to September 6.
“It is a great privilege to be with this team because this is a dream come true. It’s really fun to be here with all these guys. I’m really very excited and it’s good,” Tautuaa told The Manila Times in an interview. “If I’m not chosen [in the final line-up], there’ll be no hard feelings.”
“It is a great opportunity to be here. I’m giving my very best every practice because I really wanted to become a Gilas member,” added Tautuaa, who also played for the PBA Developmental League as a member of Cebuana Lhuillier Gems.
“He [Tautuaa] is a great addition to our team especially now that we’ve been interrupted by minor injuries to some of our players,” said head coach Tab Baldwin. “If you watch the practice, he takes a lot of pressure from our big men.”
Tautuaa would serve as the team’s fourth center in the pool besides 6’8 Sonny Thoss, 6’10 Paul Asi Taulava and naturalized Filipino player Andray Blatche.
Baldwin though explained that Tautuaa could only play in Estonia and Jones Cup but not in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic qualifying tournament scheduled on September 23 to October 3 in Changsha, China.
“Mo can only play in Estonia and Jones Cup but not in the FIBA,” he said. “But at least, he’ll give other players a chance to rest.”
Tautuaa needs to become a naturalized player in order for him to play for Gilas in the FIBA Asia. FIBA rules allow the inclusion of only one naturalized player, which was already filled in by Blatche.
“I don’t have any problem with that [not playing in FIBA Asia]. After playing college ball in US in Nebraska, I went to the ASEAN Basketball League and I went to every country that’s why Inter¬national basketball is good because it will sharpen your skill and earn you great experience,” said Tautuaa.
Tautuaa attended his first Gilas practice on Thursday and Friday.