Monday, May 28, 2012

Asi Taulava - The Rock stays strong. by Jutt Sulit.

By Jutt Sulit (@juttsulit)

Nino Canaleta was ready for his final dunk of the 2012 PBA Slam Dunk Contest. He lined up three persons under the basket. As if jumping over three average-sized people wasn’t enough, at the end of that line was the 6-foot-9 Asi Taulava. After a short gather, CaƱaleta leaped off his left foot, extended his right leg, hit his crotch on Asi’s head, and made the dunk. As expected, it was a perfect 50.

As Canaleta received his 5th Slam Dunk King Trophy, he was asked how he came up with the idea of the dunk. He replied, “Yung plano naming aalis si Asi, hindi umalis!”

That’s Asi Taulava. There’s no getting rid of him. There’s no bringing him down.

You need proof?

In the early months of the year 2000, Asi was deported due to insufficient proof of his Filipino blood. Now, I’m not entirely confident about this but I vaguely remember him making a McArthur-esque statement that he will be back. True enough, he was back the following year and continued his PBA career.

More than that, he became part of Team Pilipinas from 2002 up until 2011. 9 years. Someone who got deported because he wasn’t Filipino played for our national team for 9 years.

You just can’t bring a stubborn man down.

In the game between Gilas and the Malaysians in August 2011, a certain Kwaang Yoong Jing, according to Asi, “grabbed, squeezed and punched” his balls. And no, he was not talking about the basketball. He fell to his knees for a second then quickly jumped back to his feet and unleashed a 1-2 punch combo right on the Malaysian’s face. Now I know punches belong to the boxing ring, but if someone GSP-ed (Grabbed- Squeezed-Punched) your balls, medyo hindi nga naman nakakatuwa ‘yon. Props to Asi. Not even a GSP could keep him down for three seconds.

When Team Pilipinas faced Yao Ming and the Chinese squad, Taulava went for a jumper right at the top of the key. Yao blocked it face-to-face and sent it back past half-court. What did Asi do? He hustled to get the ball back and went straight to attacking Yao’s defense again. Fine, he eventually passed the ball two dribbles into his drive. But you get the point, right?

The fighting spirit in Asi Taulava is remarkable. After 14 seasons in the league, he can still be a force on the basketball court. Yes, his numbers have gone down dramatically from his prime years. But give the guy a break; he’s freaking 39 years old.

At this point, Asi’s resiliency impresses me the most. It’s not only that he bounces back from whatever keeps him away.

The fact that he deviated from the original plan and decided to stay under the basket for CaƱaleta’s final dunk seemed metaphorical.

Hindi umalis eh.

Ayaw umalis.

I don’t think we’re about to see the end of Asi Taulava.

I don’t think Asi’s ready to leave the game any time soon.

Seriously, I think the only way to get rid of Asi right now is to deport him again.

But in these fun times, when resilient Asi remains relevant at 39 years old, who would want to? JS

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