EVERGREEN Asi Taulava is ready if and when NLEX decides to sign him to a fresh contract.
Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao said the 48-year-old center remains in top shape, giving the team an additional option for a big body if the need arises.
“Asi is still practicing and looks to be in good shape. He is still practicing religiously,” Guiao shared in a video posted on NLEX’s Facebook page last Sunday.
“Although we already talked to Asi, he is saying that he is going to be there just in case magpalit kami ng isip or kailanganin namin ng isang big body. He is going to be ready,” added Guiao.
“It’s like we are keeping him in our back pocket. If we want to look for a match-up with June Mar [Fajardo] or a [Greg] Slaughter, then he can still be an option.”
Guiao, who is also the team’s general manager, added he had a recent discussion with Taulava about a new role in the team as a skills coach. It seems the former MVP has a different idea, however.
“We already talked to him with regards to a new role waiting for him,” Guiao said. “But he is just getting ready. Parang ayaw pa niyang mag-retire.”
Guiao’s account of that conversation differs slightly from what Taulava said following NLEX’s last game in the Philippine Cup bubble last November, when he said he is leaving his fate up to management.
In that game, Taulava came off the bench to notch 11 points, four rebounds and three blocks, helping the Road Warriors beat Terrafirma 127-101 and leave the Clark bubble on a happy note.
“Everything depends on management. I’m happy just being on the team and doing whatever they ask me to do,” said Taulava.
The past few weeks seemed to have reinforced Taulava’s belief he is still capable of playing, as Guiao himself could attest to.
“He has never missed any of our practices so far,” related Guiao.
The thing is, NLEX already has 21 players on its roster and has 6-foot-9 Maurice Shaw as the lone legit big man although the team also has 6-foot-6 JR Quinahan, 6-foot-6 Michael Miranda and 6-foot-7 Raul Soyud in its roster.
Shaw, acquired from Blackwater in a recent trade that also involved TNT, remains a big question mark, however, and Guiao had previously said he is still looking at the free agents market for at least another big.
“Kaya good thing na rin na mayroon kaming option in Asi, just in case,” said Guiao. “We’ll see.”