MANILA, Philippines – Asi Taulava of the San Miguel Beermen is the 2013 AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League Most Valuable Player (MVP), the league announced on Wednesday.
Taulava edged top contenders Jai Reyes of the Saigon Heat, teammate Chris Banchero, Froilan Baguion of the Thailand Slammers, and Indonesia Warriors' Mario Wuysang for the award.
"We have some very talented players in our league, and any one of them would have made an excellent ASEAN MVP, and it is a testament to Asi Taulava that he was selected by the team for this award," ABL chief executive Anthony Macri said in a statement.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to have Asi in the ABL this season. He was the go-to post player down the stretch of big games for the San Miguel Beermen all year long, and always seemed to deliver."
In his first season in the ABL after a long campaign in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Taulava averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.
He also served as the leader of the Beermen and was instrumental in the squad's 16-game winning streak during the regular season.
"He is a great ambassador of the game to the region," Macri said of Taulava. "I hope he has a few more years of play left in him for basketball fans throughout ASEAN to enjoy."
Taulava is also seeking his first ABL championship after helping the Beermen advance to the ABL Finals, where they will face Wuysang and the defending champion Warriors.
The selection process for the player awards began with the ABL officials selecting nominees for each category based on statistics from the regular season. Nominees are required to have played in at least 16 games in order to be eligible.
The list of nominees was then sent to teach team, and votes were cast based on a ranking system. The league collates the ballots to determine the winners.
Taulava's coach, Leo Austria, has also been named the ABL Coach of the Year.