ASI TAULAVA could be the perfect role model for PBA superstars and upcoming collegiate players tapped for inclusion in the national team.
The veteran big man on Saturday rallied today's generation of PBA and collegiate stars behind Gilas Pilipinas, telling them that playing for the national team entails "setting aside personal agenda for the country’s glory."
Taulava served as national player four times from 2002 to 2011.
“I’ve been playing for the national team since 2002. And they (college and PBA players) have to understand it’s an honor to put on that Philippine team jersey," the 6-foot-9 Taulava said when asked by Spin.ph what his message was for would-be members of the national squad.
"And if your name is called, you have to put yourself aside and put the country first,” he added.
Taulava was the starting center for the hard-luck 2002 Philippine team that finished fourth in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
The stint was followed by his inclusion in the 2007 and 2009 teams for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship, the 2010 Asiad in Guangzhou, and finally, with the original Smart Gilas-Pilipinas in the 2010 Fiba-Asia in Wuhan.
With the country set to host this year’s staging of the qualifier for the 2014 Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain, Taulava said he’s personally excited to watch Gilas Pilipinas play in front of the Filipino crowd and, hopefully, contend for the championship, which the country last won in 1986.
“This is for all the fans and especially everybody here who is a big fan of basketball. The advantage is ours because we never had the opportunity wherein we have the homecourt edge. I think this obligation (to play for Gilas Pilipinas) is good for everybody,” explained the San Miguel Beer center, who is turning 40 on March 2.
Following the retirement of the celebrated Yao Ming, Taulava feels China is no longer as invincible as it used to be. He’s wary, though, of some of the Middle East countries like powerhouse teams Iran and Jordan.
It was the Jordanians who booted out Smart Gilas in the match for a finals berth two years ago in Wuhan.