AIR21 is readying a trade proposal to Meralco Bolts for the rights of Asi Taulava, but the Express' real target is not the ageless man mountain but Barangay Ginebra's Rico Maierhofer, sources revealed.
If ever they secure Taulava's playing rights from Meralco in a trade, Air21, a source said, plans to use the reigning Asean Basketball League MVP as trade bait to get a player who Express coach Franz Pumaren is very familiar with and fits the team needs.
“Trade bait lang,” said the source, who revealed that Air 21 is willing to trade defensive specialist Noy Baclao to get its hand on the 40-year old Taulava who in turn the Express plan to offer to Ginebra for former De La Salle Green Archer Maierhofer.
Air21 feels Ginebra will bite on the trade, since it will have a surplus of big men if and when the Kings secure Taulava's services.
“Kung makukuha kasi ng Ginebra si Asi, may Japeth (Aguilar) pa sila at Kerby (Raymundo). Tingin naman namin pwede na nilang i-let go si Rico,” he said, while also mentioning other Ginebra big men like Willy Wilson and Rudy Hatfield.
The Spin.ph source said Meralco must decide fast on what to do with Taulava since time is not on the side of both the team and the player.
“Sana tanggapin ng Meralco yang offer kasi they keep on hanging on to something (Taulava’s rights) na hindi naman na nila nagagamit,” said the source.
“Mamaya, dumating yung time wala pa silang makuha na kapalit (ni Taulava)," he added. "Time’s not on Asi’s side … and so with them.”
For his part, Meralco governor Ramon Segismundo admitted to having heard of the Air 21 plan to offer Baclao, but the soft-spoken team official wants everything to be put in black and white.
“They have to offer us, put it into writing then we’ll decide,” said Segismundo, who revealed that no offer is yet on the table for Taulava.
“We are waiting - for those interested,” he said. “The ball is in the hands of Ginebra or other interested parties. If they want him. They should lay down an offer.”