Air 21's Asi Taulava (88) posts up against Talk 'N Text's Nonoy Baclao (7). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Air21 big man Asi Taulava has been one of the bright spots for the Express in the PBA Philippine Cup as he continues to dominate the pain and has refused to back down against the younger centers in the league.
At 40, Taulava continues to keep up with some of the league’s most promising young centers, including Petron’s JunMar Fajardo and Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter.
“It’s just the challenge for us veterans and old guys to prove that we’re not washed up,” Taulava said in an interview with PBA.ph. “Look at Danny (Ildefonso). Coming out of two to three months of sitting around, and in his first game back, he took some of those young bigs to school.”
Ildefonso, another one of the PBA’s most veteran big men, is now suiting up for Meralco after being released by Petron. He was named the PBA Player of the Week after scoring 14 points in the Bolts’ win against Air21 last week.
“That’s a testament to our efforts,” Taulava said.
Taulava, a former league MVP, has tallied seven double-doubles in 12 games this season, second only to Fajardo who has eight double-double performances. Against Talk ‘N Text on Wednesday night, Taulava dominated with 23 points and 18 boards to lead the Express to the upset win.
“We put up so much extra work for our teams, that whenever our numbers are called and we are asked to play, we’re always out there ready to perform,” Taulava said. “I super love it, especially when I go out there and see some of these cocky young guys.”
The “Rock” then issued a warning to the “cocky young guys” of the PBA.
“I try to bring them down to earth,” Taulava said. “I don’t just want to go out there and compete. I’ll go out there and come after you.”
“The old man still got young legs,” he added. “So to these young guys, don’t look past me. I’m in shape and it still feels good. I’m still here to compete.”
Taulava is more inspired than ever after leading Air21 to victory on Wednesday, as the win allowed them to remain in contention for a playoff spot in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“We’re fighting for survival, but we still have the chance to make the playoffs,” he said.