MANILA, Philippines -- Asi Taulava's longevity in professional basketball is a source of amazement and inspiration to his former teammate and good friend, Jimmy Alapag.
Longtime teammates in the Talk 'N Text franchise, the two led the then-Phone Pals to the 2003 All-Filipino Cup championship -- still the only title that Taulava has won in his PBA career.
Alapag went on to win five more titles before retiring in 2016 and becoming a coach for San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League. Taulava, meanwhile, continued playing: he became a key cog for Air21, suited up for the national team in the 2018 Asian Games, and is now the elder statesman of the NLEX Road Warriors.
"You know, watching Asi Taulava at 46, still be out there on the court and still be productive and still have an impact on the game, it's amazing," Alapag said during an online seminar hosted by former Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
"I've played my career, and he's still going at his age, and it says a lot about Asi," he added. "It says a lot about his professionalism and the way that he's taken care of his body."
Alapag admitted that when he retired in 2016, shortly before turning 39, he knew that "there was nothing left." His mind was as sharp as ever, but he knew that his legs could no longer handle the grind of a full basketball season after 14 years in the PBA.
"To think Asi's played another seven years after the age that I retired, it's something special," said Alapag. "I think his longevity and his professionalism is something that the younger players can really look up to and see what he's doing and try to follow that same path."
Taulava saw limited action in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup, averaging just 2.75 points and 2.75 rebounds per game. The league's MVP in 2003, he planned to play one last conference in the 2020 All-Filipino Cup before hanging up his sneakers, but the novel coronavirus pandemic prevented him and the Road Warriors from playing a single game.
Aside from his friendship with Taulava, Alapag also discussed his coaching philosophies and influences, his thoughts on the national team, and more during the online seminar.
Watch the full discussion here:
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