WITH two days left in the PBA All-Star balloting, NLEX big man Asi Taulava has all but conceded a spot in the starting team of the South team in the midseason classic set from March 4 to 8 set in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
He's hoping he won't miss the event entirely.
The 42-year-old slotman concedes earning a spot in the starting five of the balloting for the South team will be a tall order since he is up against Ginebra star center Greg Slaughter, reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo and Alaska veteran Sonny Thoss. All three are playing well this season.
“With Greg in there (list) and the great performance of Sonny last finals, it will be harder for me to barge into the starting unit, more so in the team,” Taulava told Spin.ph, sounding worried.
Taulava has a compelling reason to try and make the All-Star team this season. Not only does he want to atone after being snubbed for last year's midseason party, the gentle giant also wants to be there when good friend Jimmy Alapag plays the farewell game of his career.
In fact, it was Taulava who first broached the idea of giving Alapag the chance to play in the All-Star game for one last time - a suggestion Commissioner Chito Salud immediately acted on when he named the former Gilas Pilipinas captain the '13th man' of the South team.
“How I wish I can make it to the All-Stars this year, because this will be the last time Jimmy will play, I want to share the court with how when that moment comes, but it's beyond my control now,” he said.
The in-venue and online balloting, via the league’s official website pba.ph, for the All-Star starters is ongoing and will end at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
If he fails to make the starting five of the South team, the only way Taulava can make the All-Stars is if he gets enough votes from league coaches to be one of the reserves.
Taulava didn't hide his disappointment when he missed last year's All-Stars, but concedes a lot of players deserve to make it to the midseason extravaganza this season.
“This time I will have nothing to sulk. All of them are playing well and their respective teams are coming off successful stints with Alaska and San Miguel facing off in the last finals,” he said.
“I only wanted to play one last time with Jimmy. It was one of my last wishes for my career. Knowing Jimmy, when he says he’ll retire, he is retired,” Taulava said.
If not given the chance to make it to the South team, Taulava bared that he still plans to be in Palawan to express support to the festivities sponsored by NickelAsia, where former Coca-Cola Tigers governor JB Baylon is now the vice president for corporate affairs.
“Boss JB asked me to join them whether I make it or not in the All-Star team. But of course, I wanted to play there. Hope I will have the chance,” he said.