Why Asi Taulava is extending his range to behind the 3-point line

MACAU -- At 45, Asi Taulava knows he's no spring chicken, a reason why he's aware of his his boundaries in the PBA.

While he's used to the physical grind in Asia's first professional basketball league since entering as a rookie in 1999, the Fil-Tongan slotman said at this stage of his career, he'll have to be wise and pick his spots as he tries to help NLEX win a championship this season.

And part of his major adjustment as the senior leader of the team is to try to bring the defender out by shooting threes.

He credits NLEX coach Yeng Guiao for his newfound confidence in shooting from beyond the arc.

"Coach Yeng's been giving me a lot of confidence in shooting. It's been great, the release has been awesome," the 6-9 Fil-Tongan slotman said, moments after NLEX settled for a battle for third place following its 75-63 defeat to Guangzhou Long Lions on Saturday night.

Taulava contributed two three-pointers to finish with six points, three rebounds, two assists and the same number of blocks in over 19 minutes of play while defending the paint against the Chinese ball club's physical and tall frontcourt.

But the amiable NLEX big man admitted he still has to work on improving his new offensive weapon.

"I just gotta continue working every day, not getting satisfied with one or two (made threes). I gotta be consistent hitting high percentage threes when they kick it out beyond the arc," he added.

Taulava explained that shooting threes at this stage of his career is just his way of playing smart basketball.

"It's playing smart because the younger guys are bigger and stronger than me down in the post," he noted. "So why not take all that in there and be in a disadvantage where I can take them in the perimeter and shoot a jump shot? If not, I can get around and get to the basket and rebound. It's less punishment for my body and I'm enjoying it, and I learn that as you get older, you learn something different and I'm learning something from coach Yeng."

Although the Road Warriors fell short in their goal of winning the Asia League Summer Super 8, Taulava remains happy with how they have competed against some Asian teams in the tournament.

NLEX, in fact, reached the crossover semis after completing a come-from-behind 88-78 win against another Chinese ball club in the Xinjiang Flying Tigers at the close of group stage play Thursday night.

"We're shocking ourselves every night when we're going out there competing," shared Taulava. I mean we're playing against teams that are contenders in China and we're not playing with an import. So we see what we need to work on and what we need to improve on."

Taulava said they intend to go all out in trying to grab third place when the Road Warriors face Korean Basketball League squad ETLand Elephants at 5 p.m. on Sunday.