VETERAN Asi Taulava has played in the PBA for far too long that he's no longer intimidated by anyone - not even Greg Slaughter who he played for the first time in a preseason game Friday.
The 6-foot-9 Taulava displayed energy and hustle in outplaying Slaughter at the post, his inside presence helping Air21 pull off a 100-93 come-from-behind win over Barangay Ginebra.
The Express center played the younger Slaughter hard around the basket, scoring on several under goal stabs, and using his veteran moves to outwit the year’s top rookie pick.
And yet, at the end of the game, Taulava has only kind words for the former Ateneo slotman.
“Greg, he’s a young guy. I think he just got to keep working, but you see a lot of positive sides on Greg,” he said, noting Ginebra fans have just to be patient and tone down expectations of Slaughter for the time being.
“I’ve been with him in Gilas. He’s got a lot of upside. Everybody just got to be patient with him. He’s a seven-footer, you can’t coach height.”
However, the one-time league MVP admitted he’s far from being intimidated by any player in the newest batch of rookies.
“Me, intimidated? I think we’re far beyond the intimidating part,” said the Air21 big man. “I’ve been around the league for so long, but it’s a good competition with all the new guys coming in because it makes me work on my craft harder, especially the older guys just can’t be lazy.”
Taulava and Nino Canaleta topscored for Air21 with 16 points apiece, while four others chipped in at least 10 in a balanced scoring attack for Air21, which handed Ginebra its first preseason loss after the Kings scored a 95-90 victory over Rain or Shine on Wednesday.
Slaughter finished with only eight points after coming up with a double-double in the Kings’ win over the Elasto Painters.
Nonetheless, the 40-year-old Taulava believes Slaughter will be able to carve his own place in the team owing to his size and inside presence.
“I think Greg is filling the spot already for them (Gin Kings). He’s big around the basket. In the first half, I had to change the way I play, he altered a couple of my shots,” added Taulava.