ROOKIE BIG man Moala Tautuaa of the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns is definitely living up to his billing as the top pick in the last rookie draft of the PBA D-League by emerging as the 2014-2015 Aspirants Cup’s leading scorer entering the two-week holiday break. Despite missing his team’s first three games due to a professional commitment in Malaysia, the burly 6’6” center is averaging 16.0 points in four appearances as the Rising Suns stayed undefeated in all their seven games.
His presence has also caused the Rising Suns to up their league-best offense from 90.0 to 96.5 PPG. More importantly, their defense also improved significantly as they now ceded 81.0 points compared to 85.3 PPG in their first three games.
Because of their high-octane offense, it is no surprise that two other Rising Suns cracked the Top Ten scoring list in Don Trollano and Michael Mabulac, two players that held the fort so to speak pending Tautuaa’s arrival. Trollano is at Eighth Place at 13.6 PPG while Mabulac is just behind in Ninth Place with 13.2 PPG.
Mac Belo of the struggling MJM M-Builders is at number two with 15.4 PPG in seven games. Sadly, Belo’s good individual numbers have not been enough to lift his team that totes a 2-6 win-loss card.
At third spot is Ray Parks of the undefeated league leader Hapee Fresh Fighters at 15.4 PPG. Parks also has the most total points with 123 in eight outings.
Other top guns so far are Joseph Gabayni of Bread Story-Lyceum and Philip Paniamogan who split time with AMA University and Jumbo Plastic. Both players are averaging similar 15.0 PPG but Gabayni played in seven games compared to Paniamogan’s six.
Jeff Alvin Viernes of Racal Motors Alibaba is at Sixth Place with 14.4. The slippery sentinel out of Saint Clare College of Caloocan holds the tournament record output of 34 markers in Racal’s 89-95 overtime setback to Cagayan Valley last December 22.
Rounding out the Top Ten are Almond Vosotros of Cebuana Lhuillier (Seventh Place, 14.3 PPG) and Maverick Ahanmisi of CaféFrance (10th Place, 12.9 PPG). The list is restricted to players who have played at least four games and scored a total of 50 points.
The PBA D-League Aspirants Cup will resume on January 5, 2015 with a tripleheader at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach (JCSGO) Gym in Cubao, Quezon City. The 12 teams are expected to make their final push for the six-team playoffs set to begin on January 29, 2015.
The two teams will the best win-loss records will earn automatic seats in the semifinals. The third seed will meet the sixth seed while the fourth seed plays the fifth seed in separate quarterfinal series with the higher seeds enjoying the twice-to-beat advantage.
The semifinals and finals will be best-of-three affairs. The latest that the tournament will end will be on February 23, 2015.