NO less than San Miguel Corporation president Ramon S. Ang has given Asi Taulava the green light to play for Air 21 in the ongoing PBA Governors Cup.
The reigning Asean Basketball League (ABL) MVP expressed his gratitude to the SMC big boss for giving him the blessing to realize his dream of returning to a league he once dominated.
Before being acquired by the Express following a trade with Meralco, which owns the playing rights of Taulava in the PBA, the 6-foot-11 man-mountain played for San Miguel in the ABL where he steered the Beermen to the championship just three months ago.
“I can never be happier. It’s like I am a rookie again,” said Taulava. “I can totally focus myself on my PBA return this Friday.”
Taulava has been practicing with the Express since Thursday last week when the deal with Meralco involving him, veteran guard Mike Cortez, James Sena, and Mark Borboran was consummated.
“I am happy and grateful to boss RSA (Ramon S. Ang) and boss Robert Non,” he said.
Asked if he can keep up with the fierce training Air 21 is notoriously known for at age 40, Taulava said 'yes' without batting an eyelash.
“I will surprise everybody. They have to see me on Friday,” said the 2003 PBA MVP.
Taulava laughed at the thought that most of his Air21 teammates were still in grade school when he began playing in the country through the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League with Blu Detergent team in 1998.
“I want to tell and show them that I can still perform well with them. I’m still the baddest man out there on the paint (laughed),” said Taulava while letting out a hearty laugh.
Asked again if he still wants to play for Ginebra, Taulava replied: “Air21 just played them last Wednesday. I’m glad it wasn’t my first game (laughed).”
Meanwhile, Sherly Reyes, who represents Taulava, told Spin.ph her player has no problem retiring at Air 21.
“But if the Ginebra opportunity comes, then he is open to go,” said Reyes.
“Air 21 made the trade happen so he will give his best for them (Express). Right now, the goal is to play for Air21, and if things go well, staying with the Express is no problem,” she added.
“We are under contract with San Miguel and got the blessing to play with Air21, but if they decide to acquire Asi for any SMC teams, then we will see our options,” Reyes disclosed.