AIR21 center Asi Taulava said the team’s elimination round loss to San Miguel last week fired up the Express for their return showdown with the Beermen in the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Express entered the playoffs as the seventh-seeded team and was hardly given a chance against the star-studded second seeds.
But Taulava and the Express showed the Beermen what they are capable of doing on Tuesday night when they scored a 92-79 win to force a win-or-go-home match on Friday.
“Our backs are against the wall. And we’re pretty pissed off on ourselves in the last game of the eliminations when we let off an 18-point lead,” said Taulava, who scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to contribute to the huge win.
Taulava blamed the Express’ inability to stick to the game plan last week, which led to their 86-93 loss to San Miguel in the eliminations.
But the Express played steady basketball in their rematch with the Beermen, hardly unnerved by San Miguel’s repeated second-half uprisings.
“We didn’t go away from our system. We picked and choose who to isolate and who to attack. But most importantly, we stuck to our game plan,” Taulava added.
The former league MVP believes the Express are capable of matching up against the Beermen, whose talent-stacked roster could only shoot 39.5 percent from the field.
“Against San Miguel, we match up well with them evenly, from the guards, to the post, to the wingmen,” noted the 41-year-old one-time PBA MVP.
However, Taulava warned his teammates from getting too high over the win.
“But we can’t think the series is over. We still have to come in and play one more game,” he said. “This is a big game coming on Friday.”