MANILA, Philippines — For Asi Taulava, the adage “age is just a number” is true.
The 40-year-old Taulava scored four in the final minute, which proved to be crucial in helping San Miguel nip Indonesia, 75-70, in game one of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) best-of-five finals.
Taulava wound up with a game-best 22 points on the night he was formally awarded as the league’s MVP at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, defying the odds at his age.
“He showed why he’s MVP. He proved his worth,” said head coach Leo Austria of his veteran center.
Taulava first showcased his repertoire of finesse and nifty drives early in the game, but turned to his perimeter shooting to save the Beermen down the stretch.
San Miguel took a 69-60 lead with under six minutes to play, but the the Warriors turned to Steven Thomas and Stanley Pringle in crunch time to pull within three, thrice.
Each time, though, Taulava was there to frustrate Indonesia, knocking down a jumper to stretch the lead to five the with 48.3 ticks remaining and the dagger with 16.9 seconds.
“Although [Taulava] made a lot of mistakes in the last two minutes, in the end, he showed his worth to our team,” said Austria.
Down eight in the first half, the Beermen took the lead for good two minutes into the third quarter, but needed to fend off the Warriors’ attack the rest of the way.
“We put our premium on defense it was hard to get an open shot [for them]. I told them every possesion is important,” said Austtria.
Guard Chris Banchero finished with 15 points, while Val Acuña added 13 including three triples which gave the Beermen the spark they needed.
The entire Warriors line-up, meanwhile, uncorked just a triple more than Acuña’s output out of 22 tries, which head coach Todd Purves thought sealed their doom.