DO you know what keeps a 41 year old like Asi Taulava going after all these years?
Frustration is one of them.
After leading Air21 to a rousing debut over Rain or Shine following a 103-96 victory Tuesday night, Taulava bared his failure to win the Best Player of the Conference award of the last Commissioner’s Cup serves as a major drive for him to prove his worth in the season-ending tournament.
“It’s like this is twice now, something bad happened to me all this year,” said Taulava, who bared losing to Jayson Castro in the BPC race was a second snub for him after failing to win the same award during the Philippine Cup.
The ageless slotman said his failure to make the last PBA All Stars also serves as a motivation.
“I guess in a way, I should be thanking all those people. I just use everything that’s happened to me, not getting part of the All Stars and then the BPC, I use it as a motivation,” he said.
“As long as I keep working hard and helping my teammates and reach the playoffs, that’s the ultimate goal … like last conference, nobody expected us there,” said Taulava, whose Express came a win short of reaching the Finals after losing Game Five of their semifinal series against San Mig.
Asked if he felt bad losing the BPC award and missing a Finals berth, Taulava did not mince any words.
“Yeah, of course. I got hurt. Like I said, it happened twice. But you know, it’s my fault. I should have been out there trying to establish myself,” he said, pinning the blame on himself.
“I should have gotten the team to the Finals. I knew I should have gotten the team to the Finals. I knew I had a good chance. But it didn’t happen.
“Now I got a new conference to try and build on that and hopefully bring this team to the championship,” Taulava added. “My focus now is to bring Air21 to the quarters, and everything else will follow. One goal at a time.”
Even Taulava’s teammate Sean Anthony felt the frustration of the former league MVP when he lost the conference’s most coveted individual award.
“I felt bad for Asi. He’s been doing it all for our team. Nothing bad against the decision, but you know, Asi has been guarding the imports of the other teams, yet he still managed to put up his double-double numbers,” said Anthony, who was also instrumental in bringing Air 21 to the semis.
“But it’s water under the bridge now. I know Asi will come out stronger, which he usually does,” said the Fil-Canadian cager while praising Governors’ Cup debut of Taulava, who tallied 19 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and a steal in 37 minutes of action.
Air 21’s governor Lito Alvarez also expressed the same sentiment as Anthony, but he is optimistic Taulava can get the job done this conference.
“Ramdam ko kukunin namin ngayon yun (BPC). Nakikita mo naman sa laro ni Asi, parang hindi 41-years-old. Batam-bata ang laro. Akala mo ngan rookie kung kumikig eh,” said Alvarez.
As for Taulava, the mission this conference is to bring the team to a higher level even if it means leaving his individual goals in the backseat.
“It’s time to kick ass. We’ll get this team to a better campaign than it was last conference. The farther I can get Air 21 to the playoffs, the better my chances are,” he said.