From NZ to NA - The Story of Pistons GT Monuhh

Monuhh has arrived in the US ready to compete with Pistons GT in the NBA 2K League, and here’s his story
Pistons GT

The NBA 2K League is dominated by American players. While overseas tournaments are common, making it into the league is tough for any players outside of North America. However, Pistons GT are working to change that, bringing in Solomona “Monuhh” Faitaua-Nanai from New Zealand, as they look to recognize the talent that exists worldwide, and not only give opportunities in their roster but to encourage the rest of the NBA 2K League to do the same.

We spoke with Monuhh and Pistons GT Head Coach, Duane Burton, to understand everything from how Monuhh was discovered, to the lengthy visa process, and their expectations for the season.

“I've been playing 2K for a while, maybe just a little bit longer than 10 years. But competitive-wise, 2K18 was where I came into the competitive scene and started playing pro in the Australian and New Zealand server.

I actually got the opportunity to travel to South Korea for it, and then thePhilippines. I think the last step for me coming over to America was the Philippines last year and being able to perform in front of Duane. Everyone knows that it's easy to play Playstation or Xbox in your room by yourself with no one watching. That's the easy part. The next level was playing with the crowd, especially when we're playing in the Philippines. All the Filipinos were there. They had a massive fan base watching the game, so being able to beat them and perform well against them when all odds are stacked against you. I think that's like, that's what takes you to the next level.”

Duane Scouting APAC Tournaments
Pistons GT

What was your first reaction when you got drafted?

“Honestly, I didn't think that I had a chance of getting drafted. I had talked to Ant and Connor and Jomar beforehand. I had an interview with them. And then I had an interview with Duane. And I thought they went well"


But, leading up to it, the draft was on Friday for New Zealand time, and I had worked the whole week, and I asked my friends from New Zealand, “do you reckon it's worth taking the day off, or do you reckon I should just, like, go to work, and if I get drafted, I get drafted?”

They said, no, no, no, take it off, like, imagine getting drafted and then everyone's like, Duane's trying to call you, the Pistons are trying to get in contact with you and you're working.

So I took Friday off. I got up. It was around one o'clock our time that the draft started. So I was watching. It got to pick 24 and I hadn't gotten anything and I was like, okay, there's no chance of being taken, but I'll just keep watching anyway.

And then maybe like two, three minutes before I got taken Ant messaged me saying, are you watching? And I got the feeling like, surely he's not baiting me. And then after that, I started getting heaps of messages from all the Americans saying congratulations.”

But it's not easy to get a player from New Zealand all the way over to the United States. Not only is it an 18-hour flight, but it also involves a lot of legal work for visas, accommodation, and much more. Apart from a few forgotten passwords, Duane said that getting Monuhh over to the US was relatively easy.

“Especially with Monuhh’s stature, playing in the APAC’s before, being in these different tournaments beforehand and stuff like that, he is already a brand name. So it's way easier to show the league and get him over.

We did run into a couple of snags just with Monuhh forgetting passwords, but besides that, the process in general is simple, just making sure things are on time and making sure they're responding back to the visa process and the consulate as fast as possible.”

Drafting international players is something that Pistons GT believe will increase the quality of the NBA 2K League, and they want to push other teams to do the same.

“I don't want us to always be the only team that drafts internationally or looks at international players. I want other teams to do this as well.”

“That can be a challenge I kind of put out to the league and to other teams in general is making sure that they bring in these international players and cultivate them to their organization's and, brand. By taking risks, the sky's the limit, to be honest.”

Monuhh in-game
Pistons GT

Is drafting an international player a testament to your dedication to build the best roster possible, and to grow the league as a whole?

“100%.” said Duane.  “This is actually our third time drafting an international player. Like you said, it's easy to just pull pretty much from our backyard, but trying to not only expand ourselves as an organization, as a team, but the league as a whole to show that there's talent all around the world that loves this game, that plays this game, because it actually shows in NBA 2K sales that, you know, this game is popular all around the world.

What I like about scouting from abroad is that they know they have to put in a little bit of extra work, they have to put in a little bit extra effort to make sure that they're seeing their names get out there. So if they're going to do that just to be seen, imagine how much they'll do once they get the opportunity to showcase what they can do in the League.”

Is there a learning curve to playing in a new region? Can you see a clear difference in how APAC plays compared to NA?

“Oh, 100%. When I play back home, I'm playing more for myself in the game whereas over here, it's literally five vs five. It’s a team game.” said Monuhh

“I think for every international player that's been drafted into the league so far, they kind of get taken onto a team that's in their rebuild stage. So the team, by taking the international player, isn't really taking that much of a step because they're in a rebuild.

All eyes are on us this year, especially in fives where you've got four players that have been in the league and performed, are you going to take such a big risk on an international player? So, like I said, I'm up for the challenge, I would rather be the team that gets looked at, and I'm sure being surrounded by Ant, Connor, Jomar and Alex, we're the people that want to get looked at by the rest of the league and we want to get put on everyone's radar. That doesn't really scare us.”

Charlie Cater


Charlie has been a freelance esports writer since May 2020, primarily focusing on Call of Duty but has written about anything and everything! He is always getting involved and looking to learn everything about esports, but is also a massive football (soccer) fan and travels around the country to watch his home team Norwich City.