Asi not done yet  

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said yesterday he might suit up Asi Taulava in the Road Warriors’ game against French team ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sept. 2 and test whether the 6-9 center will be ready for reactivation in the PBA.

Taulava, 49, didn’t see action in the Philippine Cup but is in NLEX’ reserve list. “Asi’s in decent shape,” noted Guiao. “We might need him in the second conference since the height limit for imports is 6-10. For ASVEL, we’re thinking of lining him up.” ASVEL, the most decorated French club ever, is coming to town for three goodwill games in a series called League 75 celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines. ASVEL owner and NBA legend Tony Parker is arriving with the team on Aug. 28. ASVEL will play EASL’s Manila-based Bay Area Dragons on Aug. 31, the Road Warriors on Sept. 2 and Blackwater on Sept. 4.

Taulava is the second oldest to play in the PBA. Robert Jaworski holds the record as the most senior pro ever. He was 51 years, two months and 17 days old in his last game on May 25, 1997. Taulava’s birthday is six days before Jaworski’s and the Fil-Tongan will be 50 on March 2.

Guiao said although Kiefer Ravena just signed a renewal with the Shiga Lakes in the Japanese B.League, he remains part of the NLEX family. “Kasama pa namin si Kiefer sa viber group at active siya,” said Guiao. “Nakikipagkwentuhan at kung minsan, he shares plays from the B.League that we could try sa PBA. Of course, we miss Kiefer and wish he could be playing with us. But we’re moving on which is why we signed up Kris (Rosales) and why we need guys like Kevin (Alas), Don (Trollano), Calvin (Oftana), Justin (Chua) and the other guys to score to fill in the vacuum. Kiefer stays in contact from a distance. He mentors Calvin like his protégé and also guides Kevin and Matt (Nieto). Sana the PBA revisits the rule about PBA players leaving for abroad.” Under PBA rules, NLEX keeps Ravena’s rights but he has two years to return from leaving and if not, has to sit out three more years.

Guiao said Oftana’s upside is a factor that makes NLEX’ future as a contender bright. “He’s a simple, humble, hard-working guy,” said Guiao referring to the former San Beda standout who was born in Danao City, Cebu and grew up in Siaton, south of Jimalalud in Negros Oriental. Oftana is likely to be named to the Gilas pool for the FIBA World Cup.


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