This appears in inthezone.com.ph
Taulava sparks Meralco to win over skiding Barako Bull
by rick olivares
November 23, 2011
Smart Araneta Coliseum
Don’t look now but Ryan Gregorio is turning another team into a gem.
Following the Meralco Bolts’ 83-75 win over Barako Bull Energy, Gregorio’s new team moved into solo fourth place in the standings of the ongoing Philippine Cup.
When asked about similarities between his new team and his old B-Meg/Purefoods squads, Gregorio said, “My old club was a veteran team that had plenty of championship experience. My new one (Gregorio is in his second year as head coach of the Manuel V. Pangilinan franchise) has veteran players but only few with championships. Asi Taulava has won. Mac Cardona has won. But Sol Mercado has not. Mark Isip has not won.
In his first year with Meralco, Gregorio saw his club go to a collective 13-20 while missing out on advancing in both the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup. The team jettisoned their young players in Shawn Weinstein, Ford Arao, Khasim Mirza, Bambam Gamalinda, and Hans Thiele in favor of a veteran crew.
And when it comes to veterans, the 38-year old Asi Taulava conjured images of his old dominant self by compiling 10 points and 17 rebounds (to go with a steal and a block). “The Rock” as the Fil-Am is known and now in his 12th year in the pro league, battled the bull-strong Dorian Peña (12 points and 14 rebounds) inside the lane.
Cardona, in his sixth game back after a lengthy recuperation period for a knee injury, once more led his team in scoring with 17 points while Gabby Espinas added 16 points, Mercado 12, and Isip with 10. Once the Bolts seized the lead they never let up and repeatedly turned back the Energy Boosters, another team with a veteran laden cast. The Junel Baculi-coached squad has since cooled off after a blazing the start that saw them upset current leader Talk ‘N Text to go up early in the standings. However, they have lost five straight and are now at 5-5 good for sixth place despite being tied with Ginebra.
As it was in the Ginebra-Alaska match that preceded the Meralco-Barako Bull tussle, the latter squads dominated the statistics although the former teams came through in the clutch. When informed of this, Gregorio said, “Yes, the statistics do not tell the whole story. We will try to improve on those areas but if it’s an unconventional win then it still counts for us.”
He also paid tribute to Taulava after the match, “Asi’s playing like a young guy. He’s doing a good job keeping our team together with his maturity and he’s playing and dishing good numbers for us. For a guy who is not supposed to be playing this well (given his age), he is turning back the hands of time.”
Meralco 83 - Cardona 17, Espinas 16, Mercado 12, Isip 10, Taulava 10, Lanete 5, Borboran 4, Omolon 4, Macapagal 3, Hugnatan 2, Yee 0.
Barako Bull 75 - Miller 14, Pennisi 14, Arboleda 13, Pena 12, Najorda 7, Ababou 5, Aquino 4, Salvador 4, Artadi 2, Salvacion 0, Allado 0.