GIVEN a choice, Asi Taulava said he is willing to give up his spot among the PBA's '40 Greatest Players' to longtime idol Nelson Asaytono.
The NLEX veteran said he felt bad reading about the non-inclusion of Asaytono, the No. 4 player in the league's all-time scoring list who Taulava said was one of the homegrown players he has long admired.
“I feel for him. Reading the story about him makes me feel his disappointment and disenchantment about his bid to cement his spot in the league he served for 17 years,” said Taulava.
“I can feel his pain.”
Taulava was guaranteed a spot on the '40 Greatest' list owing to his 2003 MVP award, but said he would gladly give it up for Asaytono if the league would allow it.
“I know, they won’t allow it. But I can give Nelson my spot,” said the 42-year-old PBA elder statesman.
Taulava bared that Asaytono was one of the PBA stars that most impressed him when he first came over by way of Dioceldo Sy's Blu Detergent team in the PBL.
“Yeah, he never fails to amaze me. Nelson was a monster back then. Remember when he scored 40 plus points in successive games? Damn. Has somebody done that ever since?” recalled Taulava.
The many-time national team star bared how he would often emulate the style of Asaytono, who is an extremely athletic and powerful power forward during his prime.
“I remember how I would try to copy his turnaround one-hander and his hard drive to the basket. He was amazing. Actually, up to now, I am still in the process of perfecting his one-hander,” Taulava said with a laugh.
The PBA veteran, however, he means no disrespect for the seven-man committee which selected the 15 additions to the pro league's 'Greatest' list.
“They just did their job. You know, there are a lot of talents this league has produced, so imagine how hard it is to name only 40 greatest players, 15 in that situation,” said Taulava.
Asked if he thinks he deserves a spot in the honor, Taulava said: “It’s not for me to decide. That’s for the PBA, for the fans and for the public to decide that.”