VETERAN Asi Taulava is not yet inclined to accept an offer for a contract extension with NLEX.
In a display of professionalism, the 6-foot-9 center said he wants to focus first on fulfilling the remaining year of his two-season contract with the Road Warriors before considering management's offer to tie him down to a contract until 2018, by which time he will be 46.
Team manager Ronald Dulatre told Spin.ph Taulava opted to delay talks for a contract extension as he still wants to fulfill his personal mission of leading the franchise to a first-ever finals stint. his current contract expires in August next year.
“I already talked to Asi, kasi we held a one-on-one meeting with our players after our season campaign ended. I was waiting for him to open up the contract extension topic. Pero ayaw niya,” said Dulatre.
“Kasi with how he has been performing, we also wanted to secure his stint with us,” he added.
The soft-spoken Metro North Tollways Corporation finance officer admitted being surprised with Taulava’s action as other players would normally grab the opportunity to re-sign early.
“Nagulat nga ako eh. Kasi kung iba 'yun, susunggaban agad ang opportunity. Kaso si Asi, he showed professionalism. He wanted to give back to the company first bago yung sarili niya,” he said.
“Hinihintay ko nga na i-open up niya eh. Kaso he said he wants to keep his focus on our campaign next season. Kasi I admit, isa si Asi sa mga frustrated kasi we fell short of our target of at least finishing in the top six, “ said Dulatre of NLEX’s campaign for Season 40, which had the franchise finishing 10th in terms of overall record compiled for the three conferences.
In light of this, Dulatre disclosed plans of overhauling the team lineup after evaluating the Road Warriors’ maiden season in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league.
Dulatre said about 50 percent of the current lineup faces an overhaul.
“The plan is to fortify the lineup. First step is to acquire the needed players in the coming rookie draft. We have two first round picks, number 6 and number 10. And on top of that, we are now reviewing the free agent market based on the expiring players of other teams,” said Dulatre.
The NLEX team official added the Road Warriors are looking to improve at the point guard spot and at the same time look for a back-up center, who Taulava can take under his wings.
With Taulava remaining as the team’s cornerstone, Dulatre hopes for at least a semifinal campaign for the Road Warriors in one - or maybe all - of the three conferences in the next season that opens on October 18.
Asked on why NLEX is bent on giving the 42-year-old Taulava, a one-time league MVP, a longer contract deal, Dulatre has a ready answer.
“At age 42, Asi is still one of the most dominant big men in the league, one of the toughest post-up players. He has provided the needed leadership to our team, very disciplined. He’s the one motivating our youngsters,” he said.
“Siya pa rin ang isa sa stars at backbone ng team namin. Looking at his diligence in training pati dun sa disiplina niya sa practice, he goes to the venue earlier than our call time. I think one, two or maybe three seasons, pwedeng-pwede pa talaga siya,” he said of the Road Warriors’ team captain
“Hindi lang siya magaling na manlalaro, magaling din siya na leader ng team.”