ASI Taulava believes his legacy as one of the country’s dominant centers is complete - except for one thing.
According to his manager Sheryl Reyes, the 40-year old Fil-Tongan big man still yearns to end his career with the one team he considers his 'first love' in the PBA - Barangay Ginebra.
“He is very intense to play for Ginera. Asi is very vocal about it. He even posts it on Twitter,” Reyes told Spin.ph. “Some even say Asi was lobbying (for his release), but he is not.
"He just wants to wear his favorite jersey before he retires - and it’s obvious what that is.”
There has been an on-line clamor among Ginebra fans for the services of Taulava, with the call growing louder after the Gin Kings' frontline was dominated by Alaska's in the last Commissioner's Cup Finals.
That, however, is easier said than done since Asi's rights in the PBA are being held by former club Meralco, which has so far spurned offers from other teams for the ageless former league MVP.
Making things more complicated was the fact that Taulava was offered a maximum contract by Meralco before he decided to leave the Bolts and sign with the San Miguel Beermen in the ABL.
Under the terms of the PBA's uniform player's contract, players offered maximum contract by the last team they played for will not be eligible for the two-year sit-out rule, meaning their rights are held by the mother team unless released or traded to another team.
Reyes, though, said Meralco's offer to Taulava is different.
“Kaso ang problema namin, deceiving yung contract offered by Meralco. Maximum yung first year, tapos hindi na yung second,” said Reyes, adding that Meralco initially offered the veteran slotman a one-year extension.
“Hindi talaga maximum yung una nilang offer, naging two years lang yun. (Naging) Maximum on the first year nung na-feel nila na aalis na talaga kami,” said the outspoken agent of the Bolts contract which they did not sign.
“For them daw parang retiring na si Asi. They felt he was only good for one year, but when they realized we were serious (about leaving), saka lang kami ino-offeran ng two years.”
Spin.ph has also learned that Meralco and San Miguel officials already had initial discussions about Taulava, with the Bolts reportedly asking for Ginebra’s 2013 first-round pick in exchange for Taulava’s playing rights.
Reyes declined to confirm the details, but insisted that they are still waiting for Meralco’s reply.
“Basta hindi sila nagkasundo sa unang transaction. Then I asked Mr. Butch Antonio (Meralco team manager) what else they want for Asi’s rights, he said: ‘What could we offer?’ then San Miguel asked them what they want,” shared Reyes about the still pending negotiations.
“Sa ngayon, wala pa ring response ang Meralco about it.”
Although Taulava still hopes to wear the Ginebra jersey one day, Reyes said his client is happy where he is now playing for the Beermen in the ABL.
“If it happens, it’s a bonus. If not, he can just stay in the ABL where we whole-heartedly signed a two-year contract until he retires,” said Reyes. "He's happy with it."