Other than serving as NLEX’s consistent inside threat, ageless slotman Asi Taulava said he was simply fulfilling his “big brother” role when he bumped San Miguel Beer’s young forward David Semerad in the chest during an intense moment in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-9 Taulava explained he was merely defending NLEX import Henry Walker, who apparently got elbowed by Semerad late in the 3rd quarter and the Road Warriors holding on to a slim, 68-66 lead.
“I’ve got to defend my money, man,” said Taulava, referring to Walker, who was hounded all game long by San Miguel’s defense. “I can’t let him (Walker) get hurt and let nobody bully him or try to get under his skin. If anybody tries to hit him, just don’t get into technical because we need him in the game.”
NLEX eventually bowed to San Miguel, 94-93 behind Marcio Lassiter’s game-winning three-point shot in the endgame.
The 43-year-old NLEX slotman knew Walker has been a marked since his first PBA stint with Alaska back in the 2014 Governors Cup.
No wonder, Taulava stood by the NBA veteran when he got elbowed by Semerad.
“That’s our job, to bully the other guys who try to bully him,” added the Fil-Tongan big man.
For his part, Walker, the former New York Knicks player, said he’s glad to have Taulava as his teammate.
“I’m thankful he’s (Taulava) on my team, somebody that will stand up for me, especially out here in the Philippines (because) I got a history of guys trying to get super physical with me,” said Walker, who finished with 33 points and 6 rebounds.
The sweet-shooting Walker though admitted that the Road Warriors let the game slip from their grasp.
“We just let it slip away,” he said. “These are the type of games that we have to win. I don’t like moral victories. I’m not big on that,” said Walker. – Jason Mercene