TWO veteran stars who have proven this season that they can still stand toe-to-toe with the young turks try to lead their respective teams on Monday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Jimmy Alapag and Asi Taulava stand at the forefront of Talk ‘N Text and Air21’s attacks, respectively, as the two teams collide in the hope of keeping their lofty places in the standings.
Tip-off of the day’s lone match is at 8 p.m. with the winner breaking a 3-1 win-loss deadlock and grabbing a firm hold of a spot in the Top 4, which entails a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
Between Alapag and Taulava, it’s the 6-foot-10 center who is making a lot of heads turn as his resurgence has been more remarkable, defying Father Time as the oldest player in the league.
“The forty-one-year old’s playing like a twenty-one-year old,” Alapag said of Taulava, his longtime teammate at Talk N Text. “I’m looking forward to the matchup, it’s always great playing against my big brother.”
Their partnership started in 2003 when Taulava was hailed as the league MVP, while Alapag was named Rookie of the Year after the two led the Tropang Texters to the All-Filipino crown.
Now, they’re on opposite sides of the fence, and Alapag can’t help but marvel at how Taulava has put himself in the MVP conversation at this stage of his career.
“Asi’s definitely setting the standard for all us ‘older young guys’ in the PBA today,” the 36-year-old, 11-year veteran playmaker said.
The Tropang Texters, however, expect to have their hands full against the Express, well aware that it’s not just Taulava whom they have to deal with as Joseph Yeo and Mac Cardona, along with import Dominique Sutton are all threats.
“Yeo and MacMac will have to be the focus of our defense,” Tropang Texters coach Norman Black said.
Good thing they have Alapag, who’s having his own resurgence in the season-ending tournament.
Just in their last game, Alapag buried five triples on the way to a personal conference-high 18 points, providing ample support to import Rodney Carney as the Tropang Texters repulsed San Miguel Beer, 103-97, last Saturday.