ASI Taulava knows he needs to take a break after sustaining a deep cut on his forehead that took five stitches and an hour-long procedure to close on Wednesday night.
But the Air21 slotman also knows this is not the time to rest. Not when the Express are surging up the PBA Governors Cup standings ahead of the playoffs. Not when the team is playing some of its best basketball in franchise history.
"When can you remember Air21 to be 5 and 3 (win-loss) and up there fighting at the top of the standings?" the man-mountain asked. "This is a great opportunity for us to carry on."
So sorry to disappoint the doctors. The 41-year-old center has vowed to play on, beginning with Air21's all-important game on Saturday against the San Miguel Beermen as the Express continue their quest for a place in the Top 4 in the playoffs.
"We're in the crucial stretch of the conference, we need all the wins we can get for a better placing," Taulava said. "I need to help my team. This is not for me, but for the team. We've come a long way.
"This injury can't stop me from playing in the next game," he added.
Taulava had in fact been persuaded to head straight to the hospital after sustaining the inch-long cut on his forehead courtesy of a wayward Dior Lowhorn elbow late in the first half of the Express' 106-102 victory over GlobalPort on Wednesday night.
As he pondered on whether to follow doctor's orders or stay on, the former league MVP said he was reminded of the situation his idol Robert Jaworski found himself in back in 1985 after he sustained a busted lip from an elbow by Northern Consolidated stalwart Jeff Moore.
While Taulava decided to stay on the floor, Jaworski was rushed to the hospital to get his cut stitched up before returning to the venue to inspire a Ginebra comeback from a 15-point deficit en route to a thrilling 101-97 win against the national team.
"I think I am feeling how Jaworski felt when he came back from the hospital decades ago," he said. "You just can't leave your teammates behind. It's the inner feeling that you don't ever want to quit, that's the never-say-die attitude.
"You don't want to just walk off the floor, you wanna stay and leave everything out there on the floor ... Win or lose, you want to help your team. No matter what's the injury or what's wrong with you.
"They (doctors) really wanted me to leave because it was so deep. I can't leave my little brothers. There was a battle going on, you can't just walk off the battlefield, " he said.
"I just told them to find a way to patch it up, so I can stay (in the game). We needed this win. If I left and we lost, I couldn't forgive myself."
Meanwhile, Taulava's attending physician, Dr. Jeffray Marc Ang, said the Air21 center's injury was nastier than those normally suffered by boxers.
Doctors had to apply four stitches inside the wound in an inverted T technique stitch before putting a long vertical stitch outside to close the wound.
"Tinahi sa loob para ma-oppose yung sugat, para mas maganda yung wound healing. Malalim kasi yung sugat eh," said Ang.
Ang said he has also warned Taulava about the danger of the cut being hit during the course of a game.
"We adviced him nga to rest kasi baka matamaan ulit 'yun, ma-i-injure na naman 'yun. Mas maganda kasi sana hindi matamaan yung sugat kasi bubuka ulit 'yun at dudugo, " the doctor said.
But with Taulava insisting on playing against San Miguel Beer in Binan, Laguna on Saturday, a waterproof covering will now be placed on the wound for extra protection.