Not so fast.
This is what Meralco seems to be telling its former center, Asi Taulava, who is trying to make a grand Philippine Basketball Association return with the San Miguel group—possibly with crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra—for the Governors’ Cup slated in August.
After winning the MVP award at 40 years old in the Asean Basketball League while playing for the San Miguel Beermen, talk has it that the 6-foot-9 man-mountain is about to return to the PBA in any of SMC’s three PBA teams.
But Ryan Gregorio, the Meralco coach whom Taulava offended when he left for the ABL before the start of this PBA season, is not about to give up his team’s claims just like that.
“I won’t stand in the way of his return to the PBA,” Gregorio said. “But we won’t give him (Taulava) up for a song.”
Meralco owns the right of first refusal on Taulava, a rule that has been enforced in the PBA for many years. Taulava cannot get out of that hold of Meralco unless the Bolts release him.
Taulava is not the only person rumored to be making a return to the PBA, even San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria could be called up to take the reins from Olsen Racela over at Petron Blaze.
Austria, who coached in the PBA for defunct Shell in the last decade, has had a lot of success handling the Beermen, who clinched the ABL title over Indonesia Wednesday night.
Racela took over Petron at the start of the season and failed to steer the Boosters past the quarterfinals in any of the first two conferences. The team has a knack for changing coaches quickly.
Meanwhile, Gilas-Pilipinas, after failing to get invited to the Jones Cup in Chinese-Taipei for security reasons, will be flying to Las Vegas for a series of games against tough American teams in the first week of July.
The Nationals, who are winding up a two-week training stint in Lithuania, have been forced to look for alternative tournaments to be able to make up for Jones Cup organizers’ refusal to invite the defending champion Filipinos.
Going to Vegas around that time would enable the Filipinos to possibly book games against NBA summer league teams.