NINETEEN years after and evergreen Asi Taulava remains very much part of the PBA All-Star.
The 45-year-old veteran will be playing in a record 16th All-Star game when he suits up for the PBA Visayas selection opposite Gilas Pilipinas during the final leg of the annual event on May 27 in Iloilo.
Although aware of having the longest All-Star stint in league history, Taulava admitted losing track of the number of times he has seen action in the mid-season spectacle.
“I lost track of it,” said Taulava. “But it’s always an honor to be part of the All-Star weekend. The All-Stars has always been an outreach program for us players to give back to the fans.”
The NLEX big man also missed being in the All-Star thrice in his career – in 2000 (Iloilo), 2013 (Digos), and 2014 (Mall of Asia Arena).
But he’ll be back this year for a fourth straight appearance as part of coach Chito Victolero’s unit during the final phase of the three-leg tour that will also have stops in Digos City and Batangas City.
Among Taulava’s Visayas teammate is James Yap of Rain or Shine, who made the All-Star for the 15th straight season.
“Some people take it for granted, but throughout my whole career, I always appreciate it. This means a lot,” said Taulava, who was All-Star MVP twice in 2004 and 2006.
“It’s like second best to winning a championship.”
This year’s All-Stars kicks off on May 23 in Digos, Davao del Sur featuring the PBA Mindanao selection, coached by Tim Cone, against the national team.
“It is with pride and honor to host the opening leg of this year’s All-Star in the city of Digos, Davao del Sur, which has been a long-time partner of the PBA after staging several games of the league in the province during the past,” said Davao del Sur governor Douglas Cagas.
Two days later on May 25, the annual classic shifts to Batangas City for the second leg of the meet pitting the Philippine squad against the PBA Luzon All-Star.