Asi Taulava lifts NLEX over Globalport
MANILA, Philippines—All eyes were on Globalport rookie Stanley Pringle but NLEX’s Asi Taulava, the oldest player in the league, stole the limelight Tuesday.
Taulava drove the Road Warriors back from a late deficit to beat the Batang Pier, 101-96, in the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 41-year-old Taulava finished with 21 points, including back-to-back three-point plays that gave NLEX the lead for good, 94-92, with 1:42 left after trailing by nine.
“We gave Asi a rest and fielded him back in the last five minutes and it worked for us,” said NLEX assistant Adonis Tierra, whose team played catchup majority of the game before pulling ahead when it mattered most.
Tierra will be manning the sidelines for the Road Warriors until head coach Boyet Fernandez gets done with his coaching duties with the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA.
Taulava capped a 19-5 tear by NLEX with a short fadeaway bank shot that pushed his team’s lead to five, 99-94, with 41.9 seconds left.
Pringle, the top overall pick in this year’s draft, put on a show in his PBA debut and wound up with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Globalport led by as much as 13, 41-28, in the second quarter and was still up, 89-80, with 5:33 left before a major meltdown ensued.
The Batang Pier’s three-guard lineup with Pringle, Alex Cabagnot and Terrence Romeo scored 70 points combined led by Romeo’s game-high 33 points.
Cabagnot had 23 but only scored one point in the second half.
Romeo made a layup to cut NLEX’s lead down to three, 99-96, with still 26.0 ticks left but Noy Baclao missed a gimme and Cabagnot turned the ball over after that to shut the door on Globalport’s chances to salvage a win.