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Asi Taulava set to become longest tenured PBA player as NLEX activates him for jersey retirement game vs TNT

Asi Taulava is set for a record-breaking 24th-season debut. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Asi Taulava is set to become the player who has been around for the most PBA seasons as he will suit up for NLEX in his jersey retirement game against TNT on Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

The Road Warriors announced on Tuesday and confirmed by the PBA that Taulava has been activated for the said game scheduled for an 8 p.m. tip-off.

If he gets to play, Taulava will see action in his 24th season, breaking a tie with Robert Jaworski Sr. for the longest-tenured PBA player.

Jaworski played in the league's first 23 seasons from 1975-1997 before retiring to become a senator the year later.

"The activation for the Wednesday game signifies a special moment for the NLEX Road Warriors and the entire PBA community as they witness Taulava’s unparalleled dedication to the sport," NLEX said in a statement.

The TNT franchise took advantage of not having the 1999 PBA Draft and directly hired Taulava from Blu in the PBL.

After four seasons of heartbreaks, Taulava finally won a PBA championship when he teamed up with then-rookies Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey to lead the former Phone Pals to the 2003 PBA Philippine Cup title.

Taulava would become the season MVP that year.

Taulava also had stops with Coca-Cola, and Meralco before joining the second incarnation of the Air21 club, whose franchise was eventually absorbed by NLEX.

During halftime, the Road Warriors will retire Taulava's number 88 jersey, and it will take place against the team that drafted him to the PBA, the Tropang Giga.

Robert Bolick, Hesed Gabo join Asi Taulava for NLEX

NLEX also announced that Robert Bolick has been activated for the game, which means he is set for a PBA return after a one-game spell in the B.League Second Division for Fukushima.

Bolick was traded to the Road Warriors along with Kent Salado in a five-player swap with the NorthPort Batang Pier that also involved Kris Rosales and Ben Adamos.

NLEX also traded away Don Trollano in the said deal, but he was quickly shipped to San Miguel.

With the announcement, which was affirmed by the PBA, the Road Warriors were able to sign Bolick in time before the 12 p.m. deadline for the submission of their lineup against the Tropang Giga.

The PBA also confirmed that Hesed Gabo has been reactivated for the game.

Gabo and Doliguez were sent to the free agents' list to give way to the signing of rookie wingmen Enoch Valdez and Jhan Nermal.

However, with no team picking him up plus the need to shore up the point guard rotation after giving up Rosales, the Road Warriors quickly brought Gabo back into the fold.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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