FORMER PBA MVP Asi Taulava on Thursday bid the pro league goodbye as he charts a new career path that would take the 39-year-old to the San Miguel Beermen in the fledgling Asean Basketball League.
“I would like 2 thank Comm Salud n da PBA fam 4 giving me da opportunity 2 play in da PBA. PBA will always have a special place in my heart,” said the 14-year veteran on his Twitter account @AsiTaulava5.
The 38-year-old Taulava had rejected Meralco's offer of two-year contract extension on Wednesday night and by bidding the pro league adieu had effectively ruled out a transfer to another PBA ballclub.
Meralco's new team manager Butch Antonio said he had really hoped that Taulava’s presence during the Bolts’ preseason game against Barako Bull at the Meralco gym on Wednesdayu was a sign that the 6’9” Fil-Tongan would be re-signing with the team.
“But that was Asi’s decision and we have to respect it. In his second year of the two-year contract we offered, we actually included a provision where he could even kick in his advocacy plans since he told me he has enjoyed doing it,” explained Antonio, referring to Taulava’s recent charity game where he raised funds to help people in people in Bulacan and Rizal areas who were affected by the monsoon rains and flood last August 7.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio expressed regret that the colorful big man won't be able to finish his career in Asia's first pro league.
On the other hand, Bolts star Mac-mac Cardona said on his Twitter account @ CardonaMark: “It was great playing with you these past couple of years brader! Good luck! We’ll miss you at Meralco.”
Taulava averaged 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds in the season-ending Governors Cup for the Bolts. Gregorio said these are numbers that would be hard to equal at this point.
With Taulava not returning for Meralco this coming season, Gregorio will be forced to get the most out of its veteran big men led by Jay-R Reyes and Reynel Hugnatan as well as sophomore forward Gilbert Bulawan.
Taulava is set to announce on Friday a move to the Beermen.
San Miguel Beer team manager Rico Meneses neither confirmed nor denied that they are signing up Taulava to a lucrative three-year deal to boost the Beermen’s roster in the ABL season set to start in January.
“Let me put it this way, San Miguel Beer is always on the lookout for the best possible and available talent that could help strengthen the team next season,” said Meneses, whose team lost to the Indonesia Warriors in the recent ABL Finals.