IT seems the culture of winning is finally catching up on the Air21 Express.
Proving that their losing seasons are now behind them, the Express kept their unbeaten record Saturday in the PBA Governors Cup after clobbering Barako Bull Energy, 101-86 at the Mall of Asia Arena
Veteran big man Asi Taulava flexed his muscles inside and finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double as Air21 got off to a 2-0 start -– the best the franchise had in the league – in the season-ending tournament.
“Every game seems like we’re learning and, just the feeling that coming from the past where we’re always losing and always playing close games. But after a while, we’re fed up with the losing part,” Taulava said after the game.
“Now, we’re using that experience.”
Taulava, running fourth in the race for the year’s MVP award, stressed the team is again using the Express’ quarterfinal upset of second seed San Miguel Beermen and having pushed eventual champion San Mig Super Coffee to the limit in their semifinals series during the Commissioner’s Cup as reference points for the team’s growth late this season.
“Going from that last conference when we made a late run in the season, beat San Miguel Beer, and then took San Mig to a Game Five, and just falling one game away from the Finals. Now we want to put all of it together,” explained the 41-year-old Taulava, who is playing with youthful exuberance again.
The one-time league MVP said Air21’s maturity is showing in the team’s ability to play the assassin’s role, waiting for other teams to commit mistakes before pouncing on them for the win.
“Coming to this conference, we execute, unlike before when teams wait for us to make mistakes and then capitalize on it,” he said.
“But now it’s the other way around. We wait for other teams to make those mistake, and pounce on them inside and then set up our shooters,” added the veteran slotman
“In that aspect, it’s like were maturing and growing up. We want to be a contender.”