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Taulava, Baguio hope for good ending with NLEX

The thought of retirement has already crossed the mind of decorated center Asi Taulava after the last PBA season.

But the former league Most Valuable Player cannot afford to end his career in such a painful manner.

Taulava witnessed how his top-seeded Road Warriors blew a twice-to-beat edge in the 2019 Governors’ Cup quarterfinals against the Christian Standhardinger-powered NorthPort Batang Pier.

History repeated itself for Taulava that time, with the loss evoking memories of the 1999 All-Filipino Cup quarters. Then, his top-seeded Mobiline Phone Pals blew its win-once incentive to Ginebra.

Taulava was still a rookie back then, and he doesn’t want to end his career to end the same way. So the 46-year-old is coming back for the 2019 Philippine Cup before he decides to call it quits.

“I didn’t want my last year to end like how it was in my rookie year — get[ting] swept in the quarterfinals. That was the motivation to lace my shoes back up,” said the 6-foot-9 slotman.

“Right after that last game I was so mad, [I] went right back and kept working on keeping myself in shape.”

Taulava is also not alone in considering riding into the sunset after the all-Filipino contest.

39-year-old Cyrus Baguio, who has been in the league since 2003, is also thinking about it as well.

Baguio also has his reason for coming back. For the 6-foot-2 guard, who made a name for himself in the league through his high-flying moves, he wants to win his first Philippine Cup title.

“Kaya nag-request ako kay coach Yeng [Guiao] kasi All-Filipino — never pa kasi ako nag-champion ng All-Filipino. Hopefully pumasok kami ng Finals para maganda exit,” he said.

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Regardless of their own reasons, one thing is certain: they both want to end their respective careers on a high note. And they both like their chances for the tilt, given the cast NLEX has right now.

“Lalong lumakas ang team namin ngayon,” Baguio said. “Andyan na si Poy [Erram], sina Jericho [Cruz], bumalik na si Kevin [Alas]. Wala na kaming excuse siguro na ‘wala si ganito, ganyan.

“Tingin ko malakas talaga ngayon ang team namin eh. Lalaban talaga kami ngayon sa playoffs.”

“These guys are awesome. They like to grind. So that’s what makes it more exciting. If I thought that we didn’t have a chance this season, I probably hang up my shoes,” Taulava added.

“But knowing these guys, everybody’s healthy, no injuries, everybody’s done with the injury part — knocking on wood — we’re looking for a very good All-Filipino.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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