AIR21 big man Asi Taulava believes his team works best when its back is against the wall, the reason he remained confident the Express can overcome a two-game deficit against San Mig the same way they toppled No. 2 seed San Miguel in the quarterfinals.
The Express are again in a must-win situation as they battle the Mixers in Game Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’ve been here before,” Taulava said, recalling the win-or-go-home situation the team had during the quarterfinals when it played second seed San Miguel Beer.
Just over a week ago, the seventh-seeded Express won back-to-back games to upstage the fancied Beermen, becoming just the fifth team in PBA playoff history to oust a No. 2 seed.
“Just like in the San Miguel Beer games in the quarters, now we got San Mig Coffee, which has a rich championship tradition,” said the 41-year-old Fil-Tongan center.
“We got to find a way, and since Sean’s (Anthony) out, somebody else has to step up, one of our guards must be able to do that.”
The Express lacked the firepower to keep up with the Mixers in their last two games as evident in their 75-82 loss in Game Two and 73-84 decision in Game Three.
“I think we’re just trying to do our best right now. With Sean being out, our hustle guy, we need somebody to fill that void,” explained the ever-green Air21 slotman.
“When Sean was there, we can put full pressure on these (Mixers) guys, but the San Mig guards took advantage of it (Anthony’s absence). Now it’s back to the drawing boards,” he added.
“There’s no time to sit around here and feel sorry.”
Taulava and his lean frontline partners Aldrech Ramos, import Wesley Witherspoon and Michael Burtscher will have to triple their effort, especially in the wake of the 54-26 beating the team got in the rebounding department in Game Three.
“They destroyed us (in the rebounds). San Mig was pretty smart on that because (Marc) Pingris tried to keep me far from the perimeter,” said the one-time PBA MVP. “But I take full responsibility for that. Things went too well for (San Mig import) James Mays. You got to give credit for coach (Tim) Cone.”