It is very unusual to see Asi Taulava as the most dominant figure on the floor in the PBA in this age, but when he senses an opportunity to impose his will underneath, he wouldn’t hesistate to grab it.
The match against the Alaska Aces Tuesday night was one of the rare instances where Taulava was the biggest man on the floor, and he dropped his third double-double in the conference, trying to go all out against a frontline that he knows cannot match-up well with him one-on-one.
“We played angry today. Everything on our mind was the last game against Talk ‘N Text where we fell apart in the final moments. I just keep the faith and believe in myself. I keep telling [people] I put the hardwork during the offseason and it is going to carry me during the season,” Taulava said. “I started out a bit slow and was not looking for my shots but now I was in attack mode. I tried to be aggressive so my teammates will follow.”
The NLEX Road Warriors center, who is averaging 13.6 field goal attempts in the conference, took 17 shots against the Aces and finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, earning the praise of Road Warriors head coach Boyet Fernandez who said Taulava serves as the leader of the young squad.
“He gives his 100 percent and he picks up the pieces when we fall down. I hope he continues to be that guiding person for the team. We are young and he is the kuya of everybody.”
Interestingly, his two other double-doubles came against teams whose frontlines do not have individuals to stop his might inside:
Taulava scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a losing effort against the Tropang Texters last week and had 20 points and 10 boards earlier in the conference in a win over Meralco.
The 6-foot-9 big also credited his teammates for reminding him to attack given the unique circumstance, and even joked about not having to worry about bigger guys in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“Enrico Villanueva reminded me you are bigger than everybody this conference. Thank goodness there is no PJ Ramos. I am the top dog now in this conference maybe except for [Liam] McMorrow,” he said.
Taulava added that more than the numbers he is putting in spite of a constant battle with father time, the main goal is to impress and carry his squad to the next level as its captain.
“And I hope we win more games. It’s trying to get NLEX to the quarterfinals and try to take them even farther. Everything is for a purpose.”