ASI Taulava once had to carry a heavy load for NLEX yet his team still wouldn’t go far in the PBA playoffs. But now that he’s more of a locker-room leader for these young Road Warriors, he's just as happy to reach new heights with this team.
The evergreen slotman, who turned 45 on March 2, credited the addition of Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Michael Miranda for the Road Warriors' historic run to the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals - the first for the franchise since joining the league in 2014.
“It feels great. We finally got here, Taulava said. “I think the biggest thing for us is the draft this year. We got Kief in and it was so much pleasure for us. We got a finisher in the fourth quarter that we need. Him and Kevin. Actually, even Kevin. And Mike Miranda coming in.”
“All these pieces finally worked for us,” he added as he made his first semis stint since the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup as part of Air21’s Cinderella run that saw the Express topple twice-to-beat San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion San Mig Coffee in the Final Four.
Taulava is set to become the oldest player to play in a Final Four since Sonny Jaworski suited up for Gordon’s Gin in the 1997 All-Filipino Cup at 51, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
And Taulava, who contributed two points, making his only shot, six boards, and zero turnover in five minutes off the bench against Aces in Game Two of their quarterfinal series, is content to just provide leadership for his team off the bench wherever their young guns take them.
“As a veteran in the playoffs I just gotta let everybody know their role and their job,” Taulava said. “Wherever Coach Yeng needs me, I'll be ready to play. We just have to keep playing, the way we're playing and doing things that brought us here.”