ASI Taulava is one with his former long-time partner Jimmy Alapag as far as his stint with Gilas Pilipinas is concerned.
The veteran big man said this is the ideal time for Alapag to walk away from his international duties especially now that there are emerging guards who can take over his role with the national team.
“There comes a time when as a player, we all have to think about when it is time to walk away from the national team. It’s perfect timing for Jimmy. He needs somebody else to step up and guide this team in the future. And that is why you have LA (Tenorio) and Jayson (Castro) there,” said Taulava in a chat Thursday night during the Spin.ph viewing series of the Gilas Pilipinas-Senegal Fiba World Cup game at the Draft Gastropub in Greenbelt.
The way he did against the national team’s game opposite Argentina, Alapag came up big in Gilas’ 81-79 overtime victory over Senegal, marking the first time the country won in the world stage for the first time in 40 years.
Alapag finished with 18 points including the two free throws that clinched the team’s first win in the tournament after four straight narrow losses.
Taulava and Alapag were former teammates with Talk `N Text, teaming up together to give the franchise its first ever PBA championship in 2003.
The two was later reunited with the original Smart Gilas team under coach Rajko Toroman and played together during the 2011 Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
Three years after, Alapag hinted he may finally step away from playing for flag and country
Taulava supports his close friend’s decision to play his final tour of duty for the Philippines in the Fiba World Cup.
“Jimmy is just thinking. He doesn’t want to come at a time when he is still sticking around and not let the other guys grow on their own,” said the 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan.
As to the Gilas-Senegal game, Taulava admitted he was just as nervous as the jampacked crowd who intently watched the match especially after Senegal was able to force overtime with a late three pointer.
“It was like I’m in Spain,” Taulava said.
The NLEX center also took the time to question critics of Gilas Pilipinas, mostly citing the inability of the team to come up with victories despite holding leads against powerhouse squads Croatia and Argentina.
“Some people can’t understand all the sacrifices they (nationals) did, being away from their families, loved ones, and kids. What hurts is when you see on social media that there are people that questions their heart or questions the coaching. I’m like ‘Who are we to judge them?’ We should be happy watching them, giving their 110 percent. And they are playing against all the best teams in the world,” said Taulava.