PBA: Moala Tautuaa, Vic Manuel ready for June Mar Fajardo fill-in duties
Mo Tautuaa and Vic Manuel figured prominently in San Miguel Beer’s rout of Rain or Shine on Friday and their return to form comes at a time when the Beermen will gun for a second crown this season without cornerstone June Mar Fajardo.
“I’ve spoken to Vic and Mo, (and I told them) it’s their time to shine,” head coach Jorge Gallent.
And Tautuaa reminded everyone how that won’t be much of a problem.
“I mean, if you guys remember before I got here, I was a good player,” Tautuaa told the Inquirer after scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Beermen’s 129-116 rout of the Painters. “So this is nothing, really. It’s just making sure I play basketball again. Finding my rhythm—that’s all it is.”
Manuel also had 23 points for San Miguel even as he continues to get into perfect rhythm after coming off an injury.
“I’m still pushing myself,” Manuel said. “I’m not yet content. My timing’s still off and I feel I’m hard on myself for not performing up to my standards. Hopefully, when the playoffs come around, my confidence rises.”
Gallent knows he can count on both bigs to fill in for Fajardo, who is expected to be out for six weeks due to a knee problem.
“Vic is a great player. Mo is a great player. They just have to shine. I know they (will) perform well,” he said.
San Miguel wrapped up its elimination round schedule with a 9-2 (win-loss) record and will have a twice-to-beat advantage when it battles Converge in the quarterfinals starting on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
While the Beermen will try to plug the gaping hole left by Fajardo’s injury, Tautuaa stressed that it won’t be up to just the bigs to do so.
“We play team basketball, and team basketball is gonna be the reason we’ll win. We pride ourselves in trying to get as many assists as we can and if we can continue to do that—the bigs finishing, the guards shooting, the bigs passing, the guards passing—it’s not going to be a one-man show, it’s gonna be all of us. When we do that, we win,” Tautuaa said.
“We have lots of other players in our team. We need to help each other out, especially with June Mar out,” said Manuel. “He carried us all last (Philippine Cup). So we need [to do the same] to help this team.”
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