ASI Taulava believes that as long as Air21 continues to play well in the PBA Governors Cup, the opportunity to become the first player over 40 to win an MVP award in the pro league will take care of itself.
The evergreen big man has been the biggest revelation this season after leading the seventh-seeded Express to a quarterfinal upset of No. 2 seed San Miguel Beer and within a win of taking out eventual champion San Mig in the semifinals of the Commissioner's Cup.
Air21's first semifinal appearance in franchise history also helped put Taulava in the frame for the league's most prestigious individual award, which he first won 11 years ago.
The 41-year-old, who has climbed from No. 8 to No. 4 in the statistical race for the yearend award, admits a second MVP award at this stage in his career would be more meaningful.
But at the same time, Taulava insisted there is no need to focus on the historic quest, saying his priority is to lead Air21 to another dream playoff run.
“I know everything (winning the MVP) depends on how Air21 plays this conference. But we’re a lot more focused,” Taulava told Spin.ph as the team prepared for its game against Barako Bull on Saturday.
“And now that we have tasted success (a first-ever Final Four appearance in the second conference), you don’t want to lose that feeling.”
Taulava is one of eight PBA big men who are jostling for the MVP plum this season. San Miguel Beer’s youthful center June Mar Fajardo remained at No. 1 at the end of the Commissioner’s Cup with 24.4 statistical points, with Taulava at 20.7.
Taulava, who lost to Talk ‘N Text guard Jason Castro in the Best Player award for the Commissioner’s Cup, calls the MVP award as just an “icing on the cake," emphasizing the team’s goal is far more important than the quest for individual glory.
“We’re putting aside our own personal goals because the MVP will just be an icing on the cake. For now, we're working on the main course,” he said.