Now perimeter-oriented, Taulava unleashes ‘Asi Splash’ in Macau
MACAU—Asi Taulava has been called “Ageless” the moment he hit 40, but the man also known as “The Rock” in his heyday could potentially add “Limitless” to his growing number of nicknames.
Once the best big man in the PBA due to his sheer size and strength, the now 45-year-old Taulava has evolved his game and added a 3-pointer to his age-defying career.
And Taulava’s shooting is in full display here in Macau, of all places, in the Asia League Super 8.
In NLEX’s semifinal game against CBA’s Guangzho, Taulava went 2-of-6 from three-point area including one that beat the shot clock in the third quarter.
Taulava finished with six points, all his shots came from downtown, in a 75-63 loss. He said that his shooting exploits are just getting started.
“Splash!” exclaimed Taulava Saturday at Macau East Asian Games Dome when he was asked about his newfound skill. “That’s a new nickname we have right now, everybody calls it the Asi Splash.”
Taulava has, so far, has gone 5-of-15 in the pocket tournament where they played against professional teams from China, Korea, and Japan.
The 2003 PBA MVP said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao has been a major reason why he’s started to shift his game to the perimeter, an area he rarely stayed in during his prime.
“Coach Yeng’s been giving me a lot of confidence in shooting, it’s been great, the release has been awesome and I just got to continue working every day and not getting satisfied with one or two,” said Taulava. “I got to be consistent in hitting high-percentage threes when they kick it out.”
Another reason for Taulava’s shooting development is the new breed of big men who are “bigger and stronger” than him.
Listed at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Taulava is a big man himself but the likes of the 7-foot, 260-pound Greg Slaughter and reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who stands at 6-foot-10 and weighs 250 pounds, have ushered in a new age of PBA giants.
Taulava said he also has to think about the punishment his body takes every game in the PBA and shooting threes is one way of limiting the tear he receives.
“It’s playing smart. The younger guys are bigger and stronger than me down in the post so why take all that in and be in a disadvantage where I can take them to the perimeter and shoot a jump shot,” said Taulava.
“It’s less punishment for my body and I’m enjoying it, and I learn as you get older you learn something different and I’m learning something from coach Yeng.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.