IT'S Barangay Ginebra or the highway for Asi Taulava.
The reigning Asean Basketball League MVP said he will only return to the PBA if he suits up for the Kings.
“There’s only one team I would want to play for and that’s Ginebra,” Taulava said on Wednesday before the press launch of the charity basketball game he headlined with former NBA star Stephon Marbury later in the day.
With the PBA grind taking its toll on his aging body following 13 seasons in Asia’s first professional league, the Filipino-Tongan slotman decided to ply his trade in the ABL where he played with a youthful zest in leading San Miguel to its maiden title, dethroning Indonesia.
But the past few months saw one of the greatest centers of his era fail to hide his desire to come back to the PBA and play for the league’s most popular team.
“It’s a final hurrah,” the 40-year-old Taulava said. “I’ve been vocal about it- that I wanted to play for Ginebra. As a player in the PBA, everybody wants to play for Ginebra. There’s no better feeling than walking into an arena and you got fifteen thousand people cheering for you. I just want to feel it.”
“As being the villain playing against them all the time, sometimes it’s tiring. You really want fans to start cheering for you,” he added.
Taulava, though, estimates he can only play for “one or two conferences at the most” in the PBA, which has a three-conference season that goes on for almost the whole year.
“I think the ABL is perfect for me, with six months of practice and six months of not just rest but I get to do my individual workout with my trainer,” Taulava said.
Taulava, however, is in a quandary as his PBA rights are still owned by Meralco, which gave the slotman an offer sheet last year before he went to the ABL allowing the Bolts to keep his rights 'indefinitely.'
Taulava said it will be “difficult” to return to Meralco as he’s still under contract with San Miguel, a sister team of Ginebra. Taulava refused to comment how long his contract with the Beermen lasts.
That’s why it’s Ginebra or the ABL.
“I think that’s the only solution to it,” Taulava told Spin.ph. “I thought at forty years old I’d get the opportunity to pick the team – mostly all forty-year olds get the opportunity to pick the team they play for – but I guess I’m on a different category,” he said with a laugh before turning serious.
“But I understand Meralco with their situation especially me playing well in the ABL. I think they’re put in a tough situation just to release my rights. It’s kind of understandable for both squads.”
“I’m just on standby,” he added. “If they don’t make any trades (in the PBA) sometime soon, I’ll just stay prepared for the ABL.”
San Miguel returns to practice in October ahead of next ABL season which starts in January.