MANILA, Philippines - Fil-foreign center Asi Taulava moved over to Meralco Bolts from Powerade (formerly Coca-Cola) as a result of a major trade deal made at the close of the PBA summit in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday.
Meralco, Powerade and Barako Energy Coffee figured in a deal that also involved Ken Bono, Rob Reyes, Jason Misolas, rookie Khazim Mirza and a future draft pick by the Coffee Masters.
The Meralco B-Boys got Taulava while giving away Misolas and Mirza to the Coffee Masters.
The Tigers, meanwhile, ended up with Reyes and Barako’s second round pick in 2013 while letting go of Taulava and Bono.
In agreeing to be the third party in the Meralco-Powerade deal, Barako got Bono, Misolas and Mirza.
The trade was completed a few hours before the PBA bigwigs’ return flight to Manila through JB Baylon for Powerade, Patrick Gregorio for the Smart-PLDT group (Meralco) and Manny Mendoza for Barako.
“This may look as a retreat move for us. But looking back, nothing happened to us with our old lineup. Secondly, we’ll miss Taulava anyway so we might as well get someone else,” said Powerade coach Bo Perasol.
“Because we want changes, we’ll look at younger players. We’ll see who can we develop in our bid to make our team a winning squad,” Perasol added.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said he’s still waiting for final details but admitted they’re after Taulava.
“Yes, we’re in search of a solid five man and Asi’s on top of our list,” said Gregorio.
Taulava’s presence will firm up the Meralco roster that already has solid players in Macmac Cardona, Marlou Aquino and Beau Belga. The 6-foot-9 behemoth, however, will miss some games late this year as he will reinforce the Smart Gilas team in the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Meralco wants to make an impact right in its first season in the pro league.
The B-Boys play the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the season opener on Oct. 3 at the Araneta Coliseum.
At 37 last season, Taulava remained the best in rebounds and his overall performance was enough for him to get a spot in the Mythical Second Team.
Amassing 355 boards in the season, the 11-year league veteran hiked his career aggregate to 4297, jumping three rungs up to 14th in the league’s all-time most total rebounds list. He has a league-best career average of 12.383.