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Asi on coach Yeng: 'he revived me again'

by Niel Victor Masoy, May 25, 2020 4:25pm

Asi Taulava has one man to thank for the revival of his basketball career in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA): coach Yeng Guiao.

"When you get out there, you have a coach like coach Yeng behind you, you want to play hard and you’ll give everything that you’ve got. He revived me again," said the 47-year-old Taulava in the Hoops Coaches International.

Taulava, who is set to play his 18th and final season in the pros, said Guiao pushed him to reinvent his game so he can keep up with the competition of today's game, and be a contributor for the NLEX Road Warriors.

What reinvention in Taulava's game did Guiao wanted him to do? Outside shooting.

"Before coach Yeng, I was told never to shoot a jump shot, always attack, attack. When coach Yeng took over NLEX, I still remember that in a meeting, (when he told me) 'Asi, you can’t just play with your back to the basket all the time. You’ve been doing it for so long. You have to develop a new skill. That way, you can help the team'," shared the 6-foot-9 Taulava.

"The first thing I thought about was three-point shot. I shot a few threes at TNT. When I took a couple of threes, management and some of the coaches will get mad at me for shooting. Playing for coach Yeng, I never had that issue," added the Fil-Tongan, whose PBA career saw him played for Blu Detergent, Mobiline/ Talk N' Text, Coca-Cola, Meralco, and the Air21 franchise, which was bought by NLEX in 2014.

Why is it that Taulava shooting from beyond the arc not an issue? It's because Guiao saw Taulava work on the skill. That goes for every other player Guiao has handled.

"He is like a dad,” said Taulava of Guiao.

“Coach Yeng is one of those guys that is strict but at the same time, if you put in the work on that certain skill that you want to do, he won’t stop you. If you come in the morning, you do the extra shooting, the extra workouts, when gametime, since you put in so many hours, he will allow you those certain things.

"Other coaches will get mad at you for shooting a three. Coach Yeng will be very upset if you don’t shoot an open three. That means, to him, you didn’t put in the extra hours and the hardwork. He wants you to be confident and he gives you confidence,” said Taulava.

Taulava, however, doesn't want just to be limited in shooting the threes. He still looks to refine the other aspects of his game, especially his post moves. 

"He (Guiao) has got me doing things that I thought I could never do. I never shot so many threes in my whole career,” said Taulava.

“I want to mix it up. Not just shooting threes but going back to attacking the basket too and try to be a threat when I’m on the court."

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