One bittersweet well-wishing
September 6, 2012 by Sydrick Salazar
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I remember when Ato Agustin left the PBA for the MBA so he can banner the campaign of the Pampanga Dragons. The Dragons, even if I was born in Batangas, was my favorite MBA squad ever because it had Ato Agustin and my favorite UST coach Aric Del Rosario. They have a cohesive unit and their second unit doesn’t suck. I still remember their starting five – with Agustin and Ghorome Ejercito at the guard spots, Eric Gascon and Dave Bautista manning the forward spots, and Long David being the team’s inside anchor.
The notion of regional warfare led by the icons of the provinces scared the living shit out of the PBA owners back then. Dennis Espino hails from Pampanga. Marlou Aquino is from Pangasinan. Jojo Lastimosa can suit up for the Cagayan De Oro Nuggets/Amigos and Kenneth Duremdes can be a Socsargen Marlin since it’s near Marbel. Had the MBA survived, can you see James Yap play for the Negros Slashers? How about a possible Danny Ildefonso (who got sued when he changed his mind joined the PBA instead of the MBA) and Lordy Tugade starrer with the Pangasinan Presidents? And maybe people should brace the scray twin towers of Junmar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter for the Cebu Gems?
For me, it looks as if it’s the MBA happening again. This time however, it’s clear that I’m rooting for the Philippines. I have no idea if a second ABL team will be fielded since Mikee Romero already has Global Port in the PBA and the capability of Tony Boy Cojuangco running the Air-Asia Philippine Patriots on his own but as of this moment, the San Miguel Beermen looks as the team to beat. Not only will they have reigning MVP Leo Avenido and possibly the return of Fil-Am hotshot Chris Banchero. They could possibly insert RJ Rizada, Paolo Hubalde, Hans Thiele, Axel Doruelo, Junjun Cabatu, Wesley Gonzales, and possibly the league’s newest twin tower combo Eric Menk and Asi Taulava.
I am a fan of both Menk and Taulava. I first saw these too battle it out when Taulava was still with Blu Detergent and Eric Menk was still with Tanduay. Menk was the reason Chris Cantonjos and Mark Telan started their PBA careers off the wrong feet with his fundamental goodness. Taulava was one of the reasons the PBA survived the evil intentions of the MBA. Not only was he a dominant center – he was also a marketable performer. Taulava was like Chris Tiu during those days because he can do TV, make a cellphone commercial, make a cellphone LOAD commercial, and do other things ranging from angas to makulit.
It was with the triumvirate of Menk, Taulava, and Danny Seigle that we saw the next chapter of Philippine basketball. Unlike other fans who complained as to how these Fil-Ams dominate the PBA – I welcomed their challenge. The Major Pain guarded the shaded area with gusto and his scoring and rebounding was his bread and butter. Ditto with Taulava.
I always thought Menk and Taulava can still play in the PBA. I know it’s obvious with Asi since his impressive conditioning trumps the wear and tear of his age but surprisingly I can still see Eric Menk find a way to help other teams. People are forgetting that the San Miguel teams for a number of years now are overloaded with superstars. If Menk would have landed with a team like Barako Bull, Air21, and even Sta. Lucia, Shell, Rain or Shine (during their down and out days), and Alaska during their downward spirals, then the Major Pain would see this as a challenge and could have reversed their fortunes. Let’s remember that Danny Seigle’s stock was brought back to life when they went to Air21. Before that he was a seldom used player that is said to be on the verge of retirement.
I don’t know why Taulava and Menk agreed on playing in the ABL. The ABL is a downgrade to the PBA in so many levels. Why did Junmar Fajardo used the ABL as training for his PBA rookie year? I refuse to believe that they came to the ABL because of the level of competition… not unless the duo want to belittle the imports. I could see Menk having no choice but to except whatever the SMC management is saying to him but Taulava is still a superstar to demand for a better environment. Maybe in some ways, Taulava wants to be a household name in the ASEAN turf. Even at this time, Asi is considered one of Asia’s top big men. However one of the harsh realities of the ABL is a stint in the league is a welcome experience for backcourt personnel but hell for the inside operators. The ABL is like the Commissioner’s Cup but instead of having just one import of limitless height, we have two imports that a local will battle for minutes, scoring opportunities, and team importance of limitless height as well. This is why players like Junmar Fajardo, Aldrech Ramos, Elmer Espiritu, and Nonoy Baclao never really blossomed while playing in this league. One might say that Taulava and Menk will be contented on just playing support… but maybe they can do that for the other down and out PBA teams.
Nonetheless I will support the endeavors of Asi Taulava and Eric Menk. Maybe this is my way to withdraw from the news I just read. I was hoping Asi will give Junmar the rookie treatment because the only way for Fajardo to make his presence felt is by one-upping The Rock. Also, I’m hoping Noli Eala will swerve this deal with Asi playing for Petron to tutor Fajardo especially with Dorian Pena, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Lutz injured. SMC haters will hate this but if it gets The Rock to log minutes in the PBA, then I would be a happy camper.
By the way aside from Sonny Thoss and possibly Ali Peek, who can match up with Junmar?
But then if I’m going to check out the good points of this news, I’ll probably check out the partnership of Taulava and Menk. If this was 2000, then the only way they can be on one team is if it’s either the All-Star game or a Team Pilipinas squad.
I’ll also want Asi to school Kwaan Yoong Jing – or the Malaysian that yanked and squeezed his balls which made Asi go nuts.
Is it wrong for me to wish Asi would go Ryback on him if Kwaan pulls that stunt on him?
Hopefully he knows better than to mess with The Rock especially since he has the Major Pain on his side.
Good luck to both on their future endeavors!