AT age 42, NLEX center Asi Taulava never ceases to amaze people with the quality of his performances.
Count Mon Fernandez among them.
“Anybody who is in that stage and still very competitive, you have to give it to the guy,” said Fernandez, a four-time PBA MVP, said as he praised the evergreen slotman as a role model for younger players.
“Yung example na ipinapakita niya na 'yan, where he is still at the top of his game despite his age, dapat 'yan din gayahin ng mga players ngayon,” he added.
The numbers Taulava continued to produce, 12 years since he won his only MVP award, put the veteran big man in line for another spot in the Mythical First Team and possibly an All-Defensive team citation.
The many-time national player ranked fourth in the season statistical race, just behind fellow big man Gregory Slaughter of Barangay Ginebra. San Miguel slotman June Mar Fajardo leads the list while Talk 'N Text star guard Jayson Castro is a far second.
NLEX president and alternate team governor Rodrigo Franco said Taulava deserves both awards.
“We won’t be where we are (sa campaign namin in our maiden season) kung wala sa team namin si Asi. It could have been very difficult for us. Siya ang pillar of strength ng NLEX,” said Franco.
“Let’s not forget he played well. He played very hard. His stats are among the tops. I won’t be surprised and I will be very happy kung papasok pa nga siya sa (Mythical) first team. He played consistently this season. Double-double every night,” added the former J.P. Morgan Chase and Company banker.
“He didn’t just figure among the top rebounders of the league. He’s also been very valuable in the defensive end for us. If you noticed, we’re allowed to bring in a limited height import, pero we opted to get a scoring import in the second conference, kasi we knew Asi can handle the job of defending the import of other teams,” he said.
Longtime PBA analyst Andy Jao said Taulava remains the second most dominant big man in the PBA, next only to Fajardo.
“The most dominant center today is June Mar. Pero I can see that Taulava is the second best big man available right now, after June Mar Fajardo,” said Jao, a regular color commentator for Sports5's coverage of the league games.
Another PBA legend, Nelson Asaytono, put his backing behind one of the ‘most dedicated and durable cagers to play in the league.'
“Sa edad ni Asi andun siya sa top contenders sa statistical points, malaking bagay yun. Hindi tayo ulit makakakita ng 42 years old na lumalaro ng more than 31 minutes per game tapos double double pa. 'Yung kundisyon niya sa sarili, nangangahulugan na dedicated talaga siya,” said Asaytono.