At 40, Asi Taulava' athleticism has understandably diminished but not his self-confidence and love of the game.
With his desire to make things happen and get the job done as shown right in his first game with San Miguel, the veteran was named MVP of the ASEAN Basketball League yesterday, making him the oldest player to win the coveted plum in the fledgling regional league.
The award came 10 years after winning the same accolade in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) while still playing for Talk 'N Text.
Now in the twilight of his celebrated career, the many-time national team member described his latest achievement as a huge one considering his age and the level of play in the four-year-old league.
In fact, he was shocked to learn about his winning the MVP plum.
"I'm still in shock right now but I'm very grateful for the MVP award," said Taulava, who was with his family when he heard the news. "My confidence is very high right now and I feel I'm playing like it's 2003 when I won the PBA MVP."
"When I first joined San Miguel, my focus was to do whatever I can to help them win the championship," said Taulava. "But when Chris (Banchero) when down with an injury, I had to step and it was for personal glory or whatever but I began to play aggressive just to help the team win as many games as possible."
Taulava beat several outstanding players for the award. These include San Miguel teammate Chris Banchero, Jai Reyes of the Saigon Heat, Froilan Baguion of Sports Rev Thailand and Indonesian Mario Wuysang of Indonesia Warriors.
Taulava averaged just 10.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds, but the stats were only a small part of what he brought to team.
"We have some very talented players in our league, and any one of them would have made an excellent ASEAN MVP - and it is a testament to Asi Taulava that he was selected by the teams for this award," said ABL CEO Anthony Macri.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to have Asi in the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League this season. He was the go-to post player down the stretch of big games for the San Miguel Beermen all year long, and always seemed to deliver. He is a great ambassador of the league."
Before finally saying adieu to the game that gave him fame and fortune, Taulava has two wishes: Have the extra strength to help San Miguel win the championship and to be given another chance to play in the PBA for one last time. (Rey C. Lachica)