Nineteen years after and evergreen Asi Taulava remains very much part of the PBA All-Star.
The 45-year-old veteran will be playing in a record 16th All-Star game this season as he suits up for the PBA Visayas selection opposite the national men's team during the final leg of the annual event on May 27 in Iloilo.
Although aware about having the longest All-Star stint in league history, Taulava admitted not knowing the number of times he's seeing action in the midseason spectacle.
"I lost track of it," said Taulava with a giggle. "But it's always an honor to be part of the All-Star weekend. The All-Star has always been an outreach program for us players to give back to the fans."
For the record, the NLEX big man also missed being in the All-Star thrice in his career - in 2000 (Iloilo), 2013 (Digos), and 2014 (Mall of Asia Arena).
But he'll be back this year for a fourth straight appearance as part of coach Chito Victolero's unit during the final phase of the three-leg tour with Phoenix Fuel with Phoenix Pulse Technology as major sponsor.
Among Taulava's Visayas teammate is James Yap of Rain or Shine, who made the All-Star for the 15th straight season.
PBA All-Star lineups
Lineups for the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao squads in the upcoming PBA All-Star Week.
"Some people take it for granted, but throughout my whole career, I always appreciate it. This means a lot," said Taulava, who was All-Star MVP twice in 2004 and 2006.
"It's like second best to winning a championship."
This year's All-Star edition supported by Peak Sports Apparel, Molten, PBA RUSH-Cignal, Nature's Spring, TAGHeuer, Gatorade and Rain or Shine, kicks off on May 23 in Digos, Davao del Sur featuring the PBA Mindanao selection, coached by Tim Cone, against the national team.
"It is with pride and honor to host the opening leg of this year's All-Star in the city of Digos, Davao del Sur, which has been a long-time partner of the PBA after staging several games of the league in the province during the past," said Davao del Sur governor Douglas Cagas.
Two days later on May 25, the annual classic shifts to Batangas City for the second leg of the meet pitting the Philippine squad against the PBA Luzon All-Star.