AMID the outcry of fans over the non-involvement of top players from San Miguel Corp. teams in the current Gilas Pilipinas program, Asi Taulava has asked fans to stop the bashing and focus on the players who have committed to flag and country.
"I would just really appreciate it if everybody would stop bashing June Mar (Fajardo), LA (Tenorio) and Ping (Marc Pingris)," Taulava told Spin.ph. "Sometimes, people forget that injuries and the long season of the PBA proved to be (taxing for all players)."
"PBA is played year round. Unlucky for us, but the other teams like China, they play six to seven months in a year. Korea, they play short seasons, (same with) Japan and all these Middle Eastern countries.
"Basketball is so big here (in the country) that we're fored to play year round and sometimes people forget that."
Taulava is convinced the past two seasons have been especially arduous for Fajardo and Pingris, who played for Gilas in last year's Fiba World Cup and Asian Games and had a longer PBA season than most players owing to the playoff runs of their respective teams.
"We do get injured. Problems still occur, we just don't show it as players because we fight through the pain," the NLEX slotman said. "I just wish they give them a chance. Let the guys heal. Our practice here is really tough, probably they know that their bodies can't take it."
Taulava also said the plantar fasciitis injuries bugging Fajardo are especially painful.
"Plantar (fasciitis) ain't no joke. That's very painful, it's hard to move around," he said. "It's just hard for people to believe he has it because he is so dominant. that's how good June Mar is, (but for me) if he was healthy, he would be tearing that rim down every second he has a chance to."
Instead of sulking over the absentees, the evergreen slotman said he wished people move on and focus on the players working hard in twice-a-day practices to prepare for the Fiba-Asia championships in Changsha-Hunan, China.
They Said It!
“That's maturity and being professional right there." - GoGo_Tomago_15
"People should learn to move on. You got 16 brothers now that's in here, working their tails off, preparing ourselves for Fiba Asia," he said.
"Let's keep the focus on the journey we're about to go in and not on the other bitter things. We should stop thinking about that. We should be happy that you got 14 guys who are healthy now. And its gonna be exciting now."
The non-appearance of Fajardo and Co. notwithstanding, Taulava bared there is a lot to look forward to in a new-look Gilas team led by Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, and Troy Rosario.
"Terrence got a chance now, he is on the national team. I think he'll gonna be phenomenal. I don't think anyone in Asia has seen a guy that's just as quick as Jayson (Castro), the guys were already blown away by Jayson (during the last Fiba Asia)," he said.
"I think Terrence is even faster, he's gonna be non-stop moving around. We'll gonna do a great job of setting screens for him, get him open," Taulava said.
He added: "(Asia) You will be blown away by 'The Beast,'" referring to Abueva.
As for Rosario, Taulava said he is surprised by how good the pro-bound player out of National University is at this stage of his career.
"I never thought Troy would be as big as he is when I play against him. The kid is just smart and he plays so well. I love having him in the team," said the former PBA MVP.
See VIDEO of interview with Taulava: