ASI Taulava has been a pro for so long now he has learned to adjust while making the transition from being with a champion squad to a losing team.
Just seven months ago, the 6-foot-10 Taulava was the toast of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) after being named Most Valuable Player at the age of 40 while steering the San Miguel Beermen to a 3-0 sweep of the Indonesia Warriors in the Finals.
Now, he’s currently suiting up for an Air21 side that is teetering on the brink of elimination in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
He’s not complaining.
“Everything is just a process,” Taulava shared to Spin.ph before the start of the Express’ practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center on Friday. “I think everything is a different challenge. We kind of being in the hunt for playoffs now, just staying positive with it.”
While his return to Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league following a one-season sabbatical hasn’t been that rosy, the Fil-Tongan remains upbeat things will work out fine for Air21 despite its anemic 3-9 record.
“Everything has a purpose in life. Hopefully, we can turn things around, especially with Simon (Atkins) and Macmac (Cardona) getting injured (early in the season),” explained the one-time league MVP.
“Hopefully, in the next two games, we can win them and have this opportunity to compete with the top teams in the playoffs.”
The 40-year-old Taulava is in the best shape of his life, churning out double-double averages of 22.2 points and 17.0 rebounds in his last four games, including a career-tying 26-rebound performance in Air21’s 88-92 overtime loss to Meralco.
Taulava said the stiff competition he gets this season among younger players has been a challenge he welcomes at this stage of his career.
“It’s just the competition, just love going out there and play, especially when being asked to do something that coach Franz (Pumarem) wants me to do,” he said.
“I just try to give 110 percent, and I’m thankful to be given this opportunity to play for Air21. I just don’t want to disappoint them. I want to just play and leave it all on the floor.”