ASI Taulava is uneasy these days, bracing for the unexpected as the trade deadline approaches.
The ageless big man came back to the league late last season by way of a Meralco trade to Air21, on the condition that he won't be traded to another team until after the PBA Philippine Cup.
That 'no-trade' gentleman's agreement will expire after the Air21 Express round up their stint in the season-opening conference with a game against Rain or Shine on Saturday.
They Said It!
“Stay sa Air21 si Asi. Wala akong plan to trade him.” - Air21 Express governor Lito Alvarez
No wonder Taulava is holding his breath.
“I also don’t know where the next few days will bring me. Everybody talks about this and that. All I can do is just watch,” Taulava told Spin.ph. “Actually, I have already put on hold everything that I should be doing this offseason, in case anything happens.”
At age 40, Taulava remains a sought-after player after posting averages of 13 points, 14.08 rebounds and 2.08 assists per game for the Express, making him the eight most efficient local in the league today.
According to multiple sources, he's still very much a target of teams like Talk 'N Text and Petron which need big men to shore up their respective campaigns in the playoffs.
The trade deadline is at noon on Monday.
While he is prepared for a move, Taulava stressed that staying at Air21 will be more than good enough for him.
“I am happy staying here at Air21. And as long as boss Lito (Alvarez) wants me on his team, I would be more than glad to wear the white and purple (jersey),” added Taulava, a rabid Los Angeles Lakers fan.
Contacted for comment, Alvarez has assured he has no plan to trade his evergreen slotman.
“Stay sa Air21 si Asi. Wala akong plan to trade him,” said Alvarez, while quashing earlier reports that the 6-9 behemoth is being courted by the Tropang Texters and Blaze Boosters.
Meanwhile, Taulava’s agent, Sheryl Reyes, declared that they are already negotiating a contract extension for the star big man. His current deal expires at the end of the season.
“Inaayos na namin ni Boss Lito. It’s under negotiation na. Siguro after the conference may development na,” said Reyes, who is batting for an additional three years for Taulava.
“Happy ako because Air21 is showing love and value for Asi. They’re the ones who made it possible pa nga to get his rights from Meralco,” added the outspoken agent, who is a business partner of former NBA star Stephon Marbury for the Starbury shoes and apparel brand.
Asked if Taulava could well end his colorful basketball career with the Express, Reyes replied: “Definitely possible!”