Asi Taulava considers himself fortunate to still play in his 17th season in the PBA.
The NLEX strongman is actually just 1 of 3 remaining active players from the batch of rookies that entered the league in 1999. The 2 other active cagers this season include Alaska’s Tony dela Cruz and Tropang TNT’s Dany Seigle.
Taulava, who turns 43 next Thursday, admitted that the chase for another PBA championship has kept him going over the past few years after a brief foray in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2013.
“I don’t know if I can hold my body together but I’ll just continue playing and everything else will fall and come in,” Taulava told a handful of media men on the night the Fil-Tongan slotman reached another career milestone by grabbing his 6,000th rebound in NLEX’s 99-106 defeat to Mahindra.
“The ultimate thing in my checklist is try to win a championship,” he said.
“That’s the reason why I’m still playing, and the reason I challenge myself, pushing myself and get that one off my checklist,” added the many-time national player.
Taulava, a 4-time Mythical 1st team member, won his only league championship in 2003 during the All-Filipino conference when he was still the main man for Talk ‘N Text (now Tropang TNT).
“The biggest one for me now is win a championship and I think if I win it, I can end it on a good note,” said Taulava, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds against Mahindra.
With NBA veteran Al Thornton coming back for another tour of duty for NLEX, Taulava believes the Road Warriors are in a good position to contend in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But admittedly, he was disappointed to see the Road Warriors lose steam Friday night against the Enforcers, which has somewhat spoiled his career milestone.
“It would have felt better with the win but then, I’m just happy and grateful I’m still playing with my age and a couple of days, I’d be the big 43, so I guess I can take that (milestone) as an early birthday gift,” shared the member of the 40 PBA greatest players.
“But I have to keep working, help NLEX win ball games,” he said.
“It (loss) hurts a little bit, but the good thing is we got a week to prepare, get some rest and work with the guys.”
NLEX takes a week off before returning next Friday against Rain or Shine at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. — By Richard Dy