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Asi, Menk holding the fort for PBA’s senior statesmen

FAJARDO vs. Slaughter. Fernandez vs. Guidaben. Their respective match ups have always been mentioned in the same breath.

MORE than a decade ago, Asi Taulava and Eric Menk dominated the Philippine Basketball Association.

They’ve won Most Valuable Player awards in succeeding years in 2003 and 2004 and captured championships separately for their respective teams Talk ‘N Text and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Many things have changed since then, 10 years after as bigger, younger players like June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Greg Slaughter of Barangay Ginebra have started dominating the league, giving the PBA the new look of the future.

But Taulava and Menk have continuously held the fort as if they’ve discovered the fountain of youth.

As early as last season, Taulava played with a mission—and that is to set the standard for oldtimers 40 and above.

He made a good run for the MVP award, even finishing third in the race. His team, Air21, a mid-level squad, which was acquired by new owners from NLEX, went a game away from reaching the championship round only to fall short against eventual grand-slam champion Purefoods (then known as San Mig Coffee).

On Friday, Taulava played an inspiring show. He came out clad in a retro blue jeans color Chuck Taylor shoes and produced a vintage performance of 24 points and 10 rebounds, while helping his team arrest a three-game losing skein.

Menk is another 40-year-old player who has started to make his presence felt this season.

Once finding himself without a PBA team to play for, Menk diligently worked his way back to get into shape and his hard work was rewarded when he was picked up by GlobalPort.

But there’s another team which sees Menk’s value more —Alaska Milk, which traded for him in the off season.

Last week, against Blackwater, Menk had his best game in years, finishing with a double-double performance of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

For Menk, he was so thankful to be part of the Alaska team, which gave him an opportunity to showcase whatever he can display.

“I’m thankful they traded for me. I just hope I have something left to help them,” added Menk, who has done cross-fit training to get himself back in tip-top shape.

Matching up against the likes of Fajardo and Slaughter, Menk said he’s trying his best to keep up with them.

“It’s a whole new generation. My game is below the rim. But I will do the best I can to help my team,” he added.

Taulava and Menk showed they still can hold their own against younger counterparts —and that served as a warning, too, to Fajardo and Slaughter, two of the PBA’s best big men, who will definitely have their hands full once they meet these grizzled veterans.   

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