By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

NOW at the tail end of his illustrious Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)career, veteran Asi Taulava is setting himself up to a strong finish, making sure his body is up for it and just being prepared.

Made it known that the currently suspended PBA All-Filipino Cup would be his last as a player in the local pro league, Mr. Taulava, 47, said his journey in the league has been a blast and that there is nothing he wants more than closing it out still making a difference.

Filipino-Tongan Taulava entered the PBA in 1999 with the Mobiline Phone Pals (now TNT KaTropa) after making a name for himself in the Philippine Basketball League.

He is a one-time PBA champion (2003), the league’s most valuable player (2003) and a 17-time league All-Star.

Mr. Taulava has also represented the country several times as a member of the national team.

Currently, Mr. Taulava is playing for the NLEX Road Warriors where he is providing veteran leadership and quality minutes on the floor when called upon, something he takes pride in and grateful for to be able to do still late in his career.

The 40 Greatest PBA players list member shared in his recent session with Tiebreaker Vods’ 2OT podcast that the forced break they are having in the league because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has helped his body to stay fresh for the grind ahead.

He went on to say that given a chance he would like to play in the PBA but recognizes that such a setup is not something in his control at this stage.

“It’s whatever [NLEX] coach Yeng [Guaio] wants. Coach Yeng, at the end of the day, it’s his team. He makes the decisions, I can wish to say I’m gonna play five more years, but it’s what the man knows, what the man needs for his team,” said Mr. Taulava.

Adding, “I just gotta plug those holes. I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve enjoyed the ride, I’m not gonna lie to you, whatever coach Yeng needs I’m there.”

Winning a title with NLEX, too, he shared would be a fitting send-off if ever, especially because he has forged great relationships in the Road Warriors’ organization.

“That’s gonna be the best feeling. That’s one I would cherish… [NLEX] has  been taking care of me since the latter part of my career. I’m so lucky that I ended up with these guys. They’ve been looking after me, not just me, my family, my teammates, everybody…” he said.

“We’re taking baby steps, one step at a time and hopefully this team if we can get over the hump, we can burst into the finals and see how it goes there.”

The PBA is still shut because of the pandemic but is working on a resumption of on-court team training beginning next week.