The Rock is not on the market.
That is the message Air21 coach Franz Pumaren is trying to send to the rest of the PBA field as he ruled out any trades for Asi Taulava amid talks that two teams have their eye on the ageless Express slotman.
“Definitely (we will not trade him),” Pumaren told Spin.ph shortly before the team’s Tuesday practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center. “Sinasabi ko nga na he’s the same Asi, but modesty aside, our coaching staff just knows how to use him and maximize his strengths.”
Pumaren emphasized the value of Taulava, the oldest player in the league at 41 who still plays with a youthful zest and provides the Express with solid numbers on a nightly basis.
“Asi is the foundation of this team. For one, the standard of every team today is at least to have one six-foot-seven player. And for us, we got a big, agile big man in Asi,” added the Air21 mentor, whose team faces San Mig Super Coffee on Wednesday on a crucial Commissioner’s Cup match.
A former PBA MVP, Taulava has been experiencing a career resurgence since returning to the PBA late last year. Prior to his PBA return, Taulava played one season for the Asean Basketball League (ABL), where he emerged as the season’s MVP while leading the San Miguel Beermen to the regional title.
Pumaren noted that Taulava’s resurgence has a lot to do with the 15-year veteran center’s strict physical regimen.
“Despite Asi’s age, he plays on a consistent basis. Stats don’t lie. Asi is a great competitor. And for us, we just know to use him and not exploit him,” explained Pumaren.
Taulava, who joined the PBA in 1999 as Mobiline’s (now Talk ‘N Text’s) direct-hire player, averages 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and one assist in 33.5 minutes in the import-spiced conference.