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Rosario, Tautuaa must mature quickly in De Ocampo’s absence, says Uichico

MANILA, Philippines – Without veteran forward and major offensive weapon Ranidel De Ocampo, Talk 'N Text will look to its two top rookies to help fill in the gap. But they still need to mature fast.

"It gives them some playing time without Ranidel but they have to quickly mature in terms of situations in the game," Texters head coach Jong Uichico said of this year's first and second overall picks Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario.

"That's what the rookies Mo and Troy still lack – decision-making and some maturity in the game. But they'll probably get that as long as they keep playing," he added.

The two big men have a golden opportunity to truly display their abilities in the absence of De Ocampo, who is sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks due to a herniated disc

While they may not be expected to carry the load all by themselves, both are certainly eager to rise to the occasion. 

"They told me I have to step up a little bit more, but like I said, it's a work in progress," said the 6-foot-8 Fil-Tongan Tautuaa, who was part of the national team pool for the 2015 William Jones Cup. "I can't get to the top if I won't take every stair. Slowly, little by little, we'll figure things out."

He wound up with 12 points and 6 rebounds in Talk 'N Text's win over Mahindra Saturday, October 31 after a lackluster two-point, two-rebound performance in an opening game loss to Alaska. 

"I'm more prepared this time. With Gilas and Troy going to FIBA 3x3, we didn't really have the time to play with each other. It showed in our first game," added the 26-year old. 

"Defensively, we had a lot of holes, and that isn't built overnight. We have to work it out to get better. We're working on our defense and slowly, we're getting to where we want to be." 

The 6-foot-7 Rosario, 23, likewise accepts the challenge but also knows it has to be a team effort in order to make up for a versatile national team mainstay like De Ocampo. 

"It's a challenge for us but it's not just the two of us that needs to step up," he said in Filipino. "The whole team needs to step up." 

Rosario, who was a reserve for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, also improved from his 4-point, 3-rebound game against Alaska with 12 points, 5 rebounds and a steal versus Mahindra. 

Both Tautuaa and Rosario were among 6 Texters in double figures as they claimed their first win of the 2016 Philippine Cup and rose to a 1-1 record. – Rappler.com