MANILA, Philippines – Air21 coach Franz Pumaren felt that they were fated to take a win over GlobalPort, especially after what happened to their big man Asi Taulava.
The Fil-Tongan center sustained a cut in the forehead during their game against the Batang Pier.
But despite the injury, Taulava soldiered on and was able to a 106-102 victory over GlobalPort.
“I was ready to bite the bullet already knowing the gladiator in him. He told me during halftime that he just had the first aid thing that closed the wound for a while and he can come back. He wanted to finish this,” Pumaren said in the PBA website.
Taulava nearly had a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds for Air21, which also got 28 points and 20 rebounds from Dominique Sutton.
Pumaren said that aside from benefitting from Taulava’s efforts, the Express saw the breaks coming their way in the final minute of the game.
During that final minute, a loose ball on Taulava’s hand gave the center the opportunity to fish a foul off Eric Menk.
In the succeeding play, GlobalPort defended Sutton who passed the ball to Joseph Yeo, who only managed to tip the ball in the air. It ended with Taulava who went for an undergoal stab.
“Actually, the way I look at it, it was really meant for us. Just imagine the loose ball rebound, the tap went to the hands of Asi Taulava,” said Pumaren.
“I guess it compensated what happened to Asi,” he added. “I think this game was really meant for us.”