Sixteen-year veteran Paul Asi Taulava said that he is not bothered by his age adding that he is more than competent to help the Gilas Pilipinas national team in its campaign in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic qualifying tournament on September 23 to October 3 in Changsha, China.
Taulava, 42, who started playing in the Philippine Basketball Association in 1999, said that his training and conditioning for the last four years made him stronger, more mobile and durable.
“I’m not really concerned about my age,” Taulava, who presently plays for Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in the PBA, told The Manila Times on Monday in an interview. “I’m just here because coach Tab [Baldwin] wanted me to be here. The task at hand is coming in.”
“I’m not going to be a superhero or do anything outside my comfort zone. Whatever coach Tab asks me, it is going to be a journey of 16 guys and coaches,” added Taulava. “I’m not thinking about my age. I just accepted the challenge because I can help the team and help those guys.
He stressed that he has always been giving paramount importance to his health and fitness. “If I wasn’t healthy and not in shape, I would never be expected here. I think it would be totally unfair. So being fit to help coach Tab in many ways turned to be the motivation,” he said.
“I’ve never been healthy like this before that’s why I take the challenge. I think I’m a younger guy every time I walk on the floor, transition player to player also makes a lot easier. I’m more dedicated and focus.”
Taulava, who averages 15.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in 16 seasons in the PBA, also believes that winning the gold medal in the FIBA Asia Championship to qualify in the 2016 Rio Olympics is not impossible.
“The expectation is the gold medal because that’s what coach Tab wants,” said the Filipino-Tongan Taulava. “We just have to prepare ourselves to win and that’s simply the motivation.”
Taulava was among the popular foreign players with Filipino parentage in the PBA during the time of the late Commissioner Jun Bernardino in 1999.