MOST fans are eager to see promising big men Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang, and Raymond Almazan hop into the PBA bandwagon, but Asi Taulava can't wait to give them a rough, rugged welcome.
Welcome to the pro league's battle of the ages.
“I can’t wait to bang my body on them, make them feel that boys are separated from the men in this league,” said Taulava, a former PBA MVP who won the Asean Basketball League's MVP award at age 40.
'The Rock' was easily the most dominant big men of his generation, and the last thing he wants is be run over by three big men tipped to be the first selections of the November 3 rookie draft.
“I have not been burning rubber in training to allow these young guys to just run me over. 'The Rock' won’t be too cordial,” said Taulava, a daily fixture at the Treston gym under plyometrics guru John Aquino.
The 13-time PBA All-Star is also eager to stand toe-to-toe with rookie sensation June Mar Fajardo.
“Too bad, I wasn’t able to meet him in an actual game when I came back to this league last conference. I would have loved to match up with June Mar,” he said with a laugh.
After nearly a year in the ABL, Taulava returned to the PBA to play three games with Air21 in the Governors’ Cup, where he was instrumental in the Express' two victories.
Taulava averaged 9.33 points, 12.67 rebounds, 3.67 assists and 1.33 blocks in games against the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters, Meralco Bolts, and the Alaska Aces.
Asked if he still wants to play for Ginebra, which was one of the biggest reasons why he staged a PBA comeback, Taulava said he was no longer hopeful.
“The dream is still there but everything is beyond my control now. I heard they’re getting a mixture of veteran and young big guys there. So it’s up to them. My focus right now is right here at Air 21,” said the 2003 PBA MVP.
Taulava also believes that the Bert Lina franchise has the potential to turn things around next season, after a frenetic buildup toward the last phase of the Governors’ cup.
“We have a bunch of good players in this team. We recently acquired Macmac (Cardona) and Joseph (Yeo)… two of the best offensive guards,” he said.
“We have KG (Canaleta) and this young guy Vic (Manuel), plus Carlo (Sharma) is also keeping himself busy at the gym with me … We just need one point guard… a stick guy, and this team can surely give other teams a good fight,” Taulava declared.