Friday, September 13, 2013

Asi Taulava named team captain of Air21; replaces Ritualo

Asi Taulava’s much-anticipated PBA return was a triumphant one on Friday night, as he helped the Air 21 Express to a crucial 106-102 victory over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

Asi Taulava named team captain of Air21; replaces Ritualo

The win kept alive his team’s flickering hopes of making it to the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs.

Taulava had a solid statline of seven points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks in 32 minutes of play, but it was his presence and leadership that proved key to the Express.

In just his first game with the team, Taulava was already the Express’ undisputed leader, being named captain immediately.

“Jimmy (Alapag) was laughing at me. ‘First game back and you’re the team captain?’” Taulava told InterAKTV in an exclusive interview. “You know I’ve got to be a big brother to these guys. I’m here to help them.

“I’ll take my hat off to Ren-Ren (Ritualo) for stepping aside. That takes real maturity. In terms of leadership, somebody’s got to do it,” added Taulava.

Taulava’s leadership was very evident in the game, huddling his team for instructions several times during breaks in action.

The Express will be needing more of it from the former PBA and ABL MVP with veteran point guard Wynne Arboleda out due to an MCL injury.

“Sobrang laki (ng maitutulong niya). Siya talaga ang kailangan ng team namin,” said Arboleda. “Malaking factor siya. Very happy kami dhail nakuha namin siya.

“Bahala na muna si Kuya Asi na mag-provide ng leadership sa team. Handa naman ang team para tulungan siya.”

KG Canaleta, who exploded against Talk ‘N Text for 30 points built around six three-pointers, believes Taulava will play a very valuable role.

“Mayroon na ngayong magdo-dominate sa ilalim. Yun ang wala kami dati,” added Canaleta. “Hindi lang sa opensa pati sa depensa. Siya rin yung leader namin sa loob.”


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