ASI Taulava is about to go full circle as far as his PBA career is concerned.
If plans don’t miscarry, the 6-foot-10 Taulava could well end his pro career playing for the same company that took him in as a direct-hire player back in 1999.
Only recently Taulava found himself back with the Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) group after incoming team NLEX, through Metro Pacific Investment Inc., brought the Air21 franchise.
Taulava began his career with Mobiline (now Talk ‘N Text), one of three pro teams owned by Pangilinan.
While negotiations for a new deal still hangs in the balance, Sheryl Reyes, who represents Taulava, said she doesn’t expect the Fil-Tongan to move elsewhere when the league’s 40th season kicks off this October.
“Asi’s rights is with NLEX because of the changes (in team ownership). Though we thought he’s (Taulava) gonna retire with Air21 because he already declared that also,” said Reyes.
“But now because of the circumstances, it’s like they are putting him where he began. And it’s not a problem to retire with them (MVP group), because it’s like destiny. Nobody really knew it’s gonna happen, kaya dun din bagsak namin,” she added.
The 41-year-old Taulava’s stock remains high after coming off an MVP-like performance this past season when he averages 14.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in close to 38 minutes per contest with the Express.
His contract with Air21/ NLEX expires this August, though negotiations for a fresh deal are already underway.
The ageless big man played a key role in Air21’s first-ever semifinal appearance in the Commissioner’s Cup after beating second seed San Miguel Beer two in a row during the quarterfinals.
The Express then took eventual Commissioner’s Cup champion San Mig Super Coffee to the distance before losing in their best-of-five semifinal series.
Reyes said Taulava is set to arrive late this month from the US to continue negotiations with NLEX, which is looking to form a competitive squad for its inaugural season in the league.