Mo Tautuaa played well for San Miguel Monday night in the absence of his teammate June Mar Fajardo. (PBA Images)

ANGELES CITY–San Miguel head coach Leo Austria knows well that Mo Tautuaa is not yet at par with the level of June Mar Fajardo. 

As he put it with a chuckle, “They are two different animals.” 

“There’s a lot of things pa na he has to polish,” said Austria. “June Mar is a six-time MVP. So, there’s no argument.” 

But the eight-time PBA champion stressed the importance of Tautuaa in the Beermen’s Philippine Cup title defense especially with Fajardo out of the bubble to complete his recovery from a knee injury. 

That was clearly evident in San Miguel’s first win in the bubble at the expense of the hard-luck Terrafirma, 105-98, on Monday at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center. 

The 6-foot-8 center made his inside presence felt as he muscled his way to a game-high 25 points on a highly-efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds, three assists and a block in 39 minutes of play. 

The Fil-Tongan big man held the fort for the Beermen when the Dyip were trying to mount a comeback before veterans Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter took charge in the endgame to snap their two-game losing skid in the bubble en route to a 2-2 record. 

“‘Yung nilalaro ni Mo is a good help to the team,” said the 62-year-old Austria, who could only hope that Tautuaa will sustain his solid production. 

“That’s the thing that we need in the team, the threat of the big man at the post. And kanina pinakita ‘yun ni Mo. I hope magdire-diretso na ‘yung ginagawa nya.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (