IT was tough campaigning in the 2015 Dubai International Invitational Basketball Championship, but NLEX big man Asi Taulava believes the stint has prepared the Road Warriors to compete at a high level in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Road Warriors failed to sustain their strong start and eventually finished sixth overall in the annual cage meet, having played six games in seven days that left almost the entire team with sore bodies.
But Taulava stressed the tournament has toughened the team while forging chemistry among the Road Warriors and import Al Thornton, the former Los Angeles Clippers and NBA veteran.
“It was kind a rough 12 days, but at same time, we learned a lot, especially playing against bigger teams the whole time,” Taulava shared to Spin.ph just moments after presenting close buddy Jimmy Alapag as the Spin.ph 2014 Sportsman of the Year on Monday night at the Mindanao ball room of Sofitel Manila.
“Six games in seven days, it’s really tough. Coach (Boyet Fernandez) tried to prepare us mentally and physically, but it was a learning curve to see how far we can go,” added the 6-foot-10 NLEx stalwart.
Taulava said he’s happy to see Thornton compete at a very high level, despite the expected physical matches against taller opponents in the Dubai tilt.
“He (Thornton) had his bright moments when we played in Dubai. He was a stud out there and he’s very agile for his position with the size he has,” noted the 42-year-old Taulava.
Although the midseason tournament is expected to be rough and physical, Taulava is confident Thornton can handle the brand of play in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league beginning with Rain or Shine on Wednesday.
“I’m excited to see him play against Rain or Shine. I know he’s ready to take over. Even though he played against bigger players in Dubai, it was a great competition,” he said.
NLEX just placed 10th in its maiden conference in the Philippines Cup after posting a mediocre 4-8 win-loss record.