JERSEY STORY: No. 88 brings 'double infinity' to career of ageless wonder Asi Taulava
Asi Taulava stands as the oldest active player in the PBA today. Jaime Campos

THEY'RE more than mere numbers, and there's more to them than meets the eye.

From important dates in their lives to lucky numbers to mere coincidence, there's usually a compelling story behind the numbers your favorite players wear on their backs.

And more often that not, these stories will either surprise you or make you feel closer to your sports heroes.

Here's No. 9 of our Jersey Story series:

IT’S not only his strict training regimen in the offseason and a healthy diet that have kept Asi Taulava playing with a youthful zest in the PBA.

The NLEX big man, the oldest player in the league at 43, believes it has also a lot to do with his unusual No. 88 jersey number.

“I probably would’ve retired already (if I hadn’t worn that number),” the 16-year veteran related to with a laugh.

Obviously, Taulava feels he has been reinvigorated since wearing No. 88.

Donning No. 55 early in his career, the man mountain brought the same number when he moved over to the pros and played for Talk ‘N Text in 1999, but tasted little team success with it.

So his wife, Anna, whose favorite number is 8, convinced Taulava that a jersey number switch may reverse his fortunes, although former Talk ‘N Text guard Patrick Fran was still wearing the same number 8 jersey at that time.

“He’s such a close friend and I didn’t want to take it away from him,” Taulava said of Fran, now a deputy coach at Meralco.

That’s when he came up with No. 88, which since then, had brought him good fortune.

“Eight is infinity, so double infinity,” said Anna, a 1999 Binibining Pilipinas candidate, who Taulava first met at the pageant where he - then a rookie cager - was one of the judges.

Taulava won the league MVP and the Tropang Texters captured the franchise’s first ever championship (All-Filipino conference) when the affable big man finally switched numbers in 2003.

But the partnership came to an end when Taulava found himself traded to Meralco in 2010.

The 6-foot-9 Taulava decided to go back to No. 55 when he played for the Bolts for two seasons until 2012, a time when he averaged career lows in scoring, rebounds, assists, and minutes.

“It seems like it just didn’t click,” he said.

So he went back to No. 88 and has since became the most durable cager in the league.


“It’s been unbelievable for me,” Taulava beamed.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos