AIR21 governor Lito Alvarez has confirmed that a gentleman's agreement with Meralco is in place preventing the Express from trading Asi Taulava until after the PBA Philippine Cup next season.
The gentleman's agreement, first reported by Spin.ph on September 16, was struck when Air21 got Taulava from Meralco for Mike Cortez, quashing hopes that the former MVP would get his wish to play for Ginebra.
[For full story, see Source: Air21 bound by no-trade agreement on Asi amid talk of eleventh-hour deal]
“Oo may gentleman’s agreement kami sa kanila. At papangatawanan naman namin yun,” Alvarez said when asked about the agreement during the meeting of the PBA board on Thursday.
“Papangatawanan naman namin yun. Kahit anong ganda ng offer ng ibang teams talagang sa amin lalaro si Asi sa All Filipino at tatapusin niya yun,” added the approachable team executive.
Alvarez said he is aware of Taulava’s desire to play for Ginebra [For full story, see Birthday-boy Taulava's fondest wish is to play for 'favorite team' Ginebra] and is willing to grant that wish at the right time.
“Si Asi talaga nag-express siya ng desire niya to play in the PBA again, di ba? Ang tingin ko naman nakatulong na ako sa kanya na makabalik dito,” he said.
“And kung ang gusto niya talaga is to play for Ginebra, open ako dun,” said Alvarez. “Kung nanaisin niya na malipat sa iba o sa Ginebra, after All Filipino open ako sa trade and discussion.
“Nuon ko pa naman nababalitaan na talagang gusto niyang lumaro sa Ginebra."
On a possible trade with Ginebra, Alvarez said: "Kung maganda ang ipinakitang laro sa amin ni Asi sa All Filipino, I have reasons to be believe na quality players talaga ang aming makukuha sa Ginebra.”
In the meantime, the Air21 big boss has high hopes for the team next season as he has nearly completed the pieces he needs following the acquisition of Taulava and Joseph Yeo from Petron.
“Excited talaga ako sa team na hawak ko ngayon. Tingin ko kaunting tweak na lang sa lineup, mabibigyan na namin ng laban ang ibang PBA teams,” he said.