ASI Taulava is defying Father Time at 41.
Two games into the PBA Governors’ Cup, the six-foot-nine Fil-Tongan has played with a youthful zest that enabled Air21 to zoom to a franchise-best 2-0 record.
Taking off from where they left off following their recent fourth place finish in the Commissioner’s Cup, another franchise-record in itself, the Express opened the tournament with a shocking 103-96 upset win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Tuesday.
Taulava engineered Air21’s dominant opening game, tallying 19 points, 14 rebounds and two assists, combining with energetic import Dominique Sutton to pull off the win, its first-ever against Rain or Shine since the franchise joined the league in the 2011-12 season.
Air21 continued its stellar play, this time by outplaying Barako Bull on Saturday, 101-86, for the franchise’s second straight win.
And again, the ageless Taulava stood at the forefront of his team’s strong start, dominating the paint on the way to scoring 22 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing off five assists for the win.
Taulava’s inspiring plays earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of May 19-25, beating out youthful big men led by MVP statistical race leader June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra rookie Greg Slaughter for the weekly citation.
Taulava said the team’s strong brotherhood was one of the keys to the team’s strong start for the season-ending tournament.
“We’re family here. That’s how coach Franz has built this team and transformed it,” said Taulava, who jumped from no. 8 to no. 4 in the MVP race for this season after the team’s solid playoff run in the second conference.
“It’s a family atmosphere, like big brother and little brother environment. If they have any problem with me, they go talk to me as a big brother, and at the same time, I have to show them respect and let them voice their opinions when I do something wrong,” explained the one-time PBA MVP. (RD)
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