AS Air 21 prepares to once again fight for survival, Asi Taulava has vowed to carry the Express on his shoulders and put his body on the line in Game Four against San Mig on Monday night.
The 41-year old former PBA MVP said he is driven to take Air21 past the semifinals for two overriding reasons: return to finals for the first time since 2005 and achieve his dream of playing against his former team Talk 'N Text in the finals.
“I still have an unfisnihed business. I am not gonna give up on that dream, I know I can take Air 21 to the next level,” a defiant Taulava said before the Express try to overhaul a 1-2 series deficit against San Mig.
“I am not done yet. I am coming back on Monday,” he added.
Taulava started his PBA career as a direct hire of Talk 'N Text in 1998 and was the franchise player of the MVP Group's flagship team for a long time until he was traded to the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2007.
He returned to the MVP camp when he was acquired by the Meralco Bolts in 2010, but later asked for a release to play for San Miguel Beermen in the 2012 ABL season.
The former Gilas standout also has not won a championship since the 2003 All Filipino Cup with Talk 'N Text - a drought which he said motivates him to push himself to the limit in training and overhaul his lifestyle, in the hope of returning to the 'Big Dance.'
“I am still chasing a PBA championship. That’s what I want. I want to be in the big dance,” he said, nearly a year after leading the San Miguel Beer-Philippines to the title in the last ABL season.
“That’s the reason why I changed my lifestyle, and that is to prepare myself for moments like this. And now that we are so close to it, I won’t let this team fold,” Taulava added.
“Our back is against the wall, being the leader of this team I got to come in to play. We got to get this to Game Five, there’s no way I am gonna let this end on Monday."
“I’ll take the challenge, I will guard him one-on-one throughout the whole game, we gave him 19 offensive rebounds for a total of 32 last time, it won’t happen Monday,” Taulava vowed.
“Even if it means following him to the toilet, I will. I am saving everything for last. And we will box him out the whole time, I will sacrifice my body. It’s all about heart now,” he said.