THE man mountain whose sheer size and dominance tilted the balance of power in the PBA and whose gentle demeanor endeared him to fans is taking his act to the fledgling Asean Basketball League as Asi Taulava officially joined the San Miguel Beermen.
The 2003 PBA MVP and 12-time All-Star declined a maximum two-year offer from mother team Meralco in favor of a stint with the Beermen, who will now have the 6-9 gentle giant in the fold when they gun for a breakthrough ABL championship starting in January.
With successive tweets late Thursday, Taulava’s agent Sheryl Reyes made official the 39-year-old’s move to the Beermen which likewise opened the possibility of the player joining any of the three SMC-owned teams in the PBA.
Despite moving to the ABL, Meralco will still have a hold on Taulava's playing rights for one season, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign up with a team of his choice.
He should be a handsome prospect for Ginebra, which has been having problems filling up its frontline with capable big men. However, he will be 40 by the time he becomes available for the Gin Kings.
In joining the Beermen, Taulava spurned offers from two other ABL teams as well as another deal offered by a team from the Chinese Basketball Association which offers a lot more financially but has a shorter six-month span.
The China offer also entails a move for the family at a time when Taulava’s wife is pregnant with their fourth child.
But more than the lucrative financial package that the Beermen put on the table, Taulava said it was the chance to win another championship that lured him into the SMB fold.
For all his individual achievements, Taulava won just one PBA championship in his career with Talk ‘N Text in the 2003 All-Filipino Cup.
Sources said Taulava is an enticing catch for any ABL team since he has an impact of an import yet won’t have to count in the salary allotted for imports under the league’s salary cap.