So said the 38-year-old Fil-Tongan center on Thursday, saying the bump and grind of daily practice and actual participation in international tournaments are catching up to him, adding he wants to devote the rest of his playing career with his Meralco team in the PBA.
“I’m feeling my age and this is definitely my last national team,” said Taulava, who has played with national teams since 2002. He has been tapped anew to reinforce the Smart-Gilas squad gearing up for tournaments culminating in September’s FIBA-Asia tournament in China.
“I can’t imagine myself playing for my mother team and the national team until I’m 40. I mean, really, who was the last guy to be playing for the national team while he was 38, 40 years old?” added the slotman, who started his PBA career with Mobiline in 1998.
According to Taulava, his probable successors should include Alaska’s Sonny Thoss and San Miguel Beer’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who are also participating in the PBA All-Star Weekend in this island resort.
“They are among the best centers we have right now and they should also be given the privilege to wear the Philippine colors,” said Taulava.
First, he stressed, they must be ready to sacrifice.
“Sometimes, you have twice-a-day practices with the national team. Add that to your practices with your mother team and you can have a regular five-hour day. Easy,” he pointed out.
“And that’s only in-between conferences. When the conference is on, you also have to contend with at least a two-hour game.”
Taulava, the 2003 MVP, also played for the national team in the 2005 Jones Cup, the 2007 and 2009 FIBA-Asia tournaments and last year’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Aside from Taulava, also reinforcing Gilas are Air21’s Dondon Hontiveros and Talk N Text’s Jimmy Alapag and Kelly Williams.
As a lead-up to the September regional qualifying for next year’s London Olympics, the Nationals are also set to compete in the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup set to start on May 28 and the Jones Cup in August.