LAOAG CITY – Asi Taulava and Mac Cardona have been tapped to beef up the Veterans squad in the featured match of the PBA All-Star Weekend.
The Meralco Bolts duo, who played for the PBA Stalwarts team in Friday’s showcase event, will be back in action on Sunday against the Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors squad, according to PBA media bureau head Willie Marcial.
Taulava and Cardona will join their coach, Ryan Gregorio, in the Veterans team. Gregorio was chosen to replace Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes, who had earlier begged off from All-Star duties because of commitments to the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national program and the MVP Sports Foundation, where he is executive director.
Gregorio said he had nothing to do with the decision to pick Taulava and Cardona to be part of the Veterans roster.
“I’m not the one who decided on that and I have even told the PBA that as much as possible, I don’t want to make the decision regarding the replacement players in the All-Stars. I don’t want to be unfair on those who won’t be selected,” he said.
Talk ‘N Text stalwarts Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag earlier begged off from the team because of injuries and personal reasons, respectively. Tropang Texters forward Ranidel De Ocampo had been named to the team to replace them, but failed to show up for the event this weekend.
B-MEG forward Marc Pingris will also miss the game because of a fractured finger he suffered in the Commissioner’s Cup finals, although he was still on hand to join various All-Star Weekend activities.
Taulava and Cardona will join James Yap (B-MEG), Gary David (Powerade), Arwind Santos (Petron), JC Intal (B-MEG), Gabe Norwood (Rain or Shine), Sonny Thoss (Alaska), Alex Cabagnot (Petron) and LA Tenorio (Alaska) in the Veterans line up.
The taller, more experienced players will be tested by their younger counterparts from the RSJ squad coached by Powerade’s Bo Perasol.
JVee Casio (Powerade), Marcio Lassiter (Petron), Dylan Ababou (Ginebra), Josh Urbiztondo (B-MEG), Rabeh Al-Hussaini (Powerade), Rico Maierhofer (Ginebra), Paul Lee (Rain or Shine), Mac Baracael (Alaska), Mark Barroca (B-MEG), and Chris Ross (Meralco) will compose the RSJ unit.
No replacement was made by the PBA to fill the void left by Japeth Aguilar, another player from Talk ‘N Text failed to show up for the All-Star Weekend. The 6-foot-9 forward was supposed to play for the RSJ squad and was a favorite to win the Slam Dunk contest.