ASI wants out.
In a development that should rock the NLEX organization, Asi Taulava has asked to be traded amid the controversy over his dwindling exposure under new head coach Yeng Guiao.
Sources told SPIN.ph Taulava has already sought the blessings of the team management through a meeting with NLEX president Rodrigo Franco on Wednesday afternoon.
After the talk, the NLEX big boss, a source added, has already given Taulava the assurance that the ballclub will work on a possible trade.
“Wala, nagpapa-trade na talaga, partner. Kinausap na niya ang mga big boss ng team. Never naman siya pipigilin kung 'yun ang gusto niya,” said an NLEX official who asked not to be named.
"We can’t blame Asi, he is at the twilight of his career and as we all know he wants to win a championship before he retires," the official added.
At 43, Taulava continues to be among the most dominant big men in the PBA. He is coming off an impressive 2015-2016 campaign that saw him average a double double (13.86 points and 10.31 rebounds) and earn a spot in the Mythical Second Team.
However, his playing time - and consequently his production - has declined significantly under Guiao, who wants to see Taulava adapt to his run-and-gun system.
Another source bared that Taulava, if given the choice, wants to reunite with Franz Pumaren, who helped the many-time national player revive his career at Air21 in 2013 after a stint in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Pumaren is now the head coach of GlobalPort, a team laden with talent especially in the backcourt but lacks the ceiling to match other top teams in the league.
SPIN.ph tried to contact both Taulava and NLEX executive Franco, but they are not responding to calls.
Taulava's former Coca Cola Tigers teammate Kenneth Duremdes said he hopes NLEX will find a way to solve the impasse at the soonest possible time as Taulava is not getting any younger.
“It will all depend on the decision of the management, internal yan eh, (so I can’t comment directly on the matter). Pero coming from the outside, sana yung player, kung di na kailangan, i-trade na nila,” said Duremdes, one of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players.
“Find a win-win solution. Dapat dyan management na ang makialam, kung ayaw na ng coach, management ang dapat gumawa ng paraan kung pano sila magbe-benefit pareho,” he added.
“Asi is Asi pa rin yan. Even if he is ageing na, may value pa rin talaga yan. So sa part ni Coach Yeng, maybe he’s still looking for a good bargain, pero sana kung di na kailangan yung player, find a way for a win-win solution.”
Duremdes said the last thing he wants to see is Taulava rot on the bench.
“Sana sa case ni Asi, may makitang magandang solution kasi kawawa rin ang player na gustong lumaro,” said the former league MVP.
However, an impasse, Duremdes added, could only hurt the career of Taulava, especially with no players' union to take up the cudgels for him.
“Nasa ruling ng PBA yan eh (na team ang masusunod kung saan ka ilalagay), walang bargaining power ang player over a team," said the former Alaska and Sta. Lucia star.
"'Yan ang pinagkaiba natin sa NBA, wala tayong union, unlike sa NBA. Kaya madaming player ang biglang nawawalan ng career ng walang kalaban-laban,” said Duremdes.
“Kung may players’ association, protected ang players,” he added.