TAULAVA BEST PLAYER OF ALL-FILIPINO CUP

Manila, July 10, 2003 (MALAYA) Talk N Text center Paul Asi Taulava capped a tournament of dominance by bagging the Best Player of the Conference award yesterday before Game 4 of the Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup.

The 6-foot-10 Fil-Tongan posted a total of 3,294 points on votes and statistics to earn his first major award since joining the Pangilinan franchise in 1999.

Taulava garnered 567 statistical points, 1,513 votes from sportswriters, 414 votes from fellow players and 800 from the four-man committee made up of representatives from the PBA Press Photographers, NBN-4, the PSA and SCOOP.

He finished way ahead of Coca-Cola swingman and former teammate Jeffrey Cariaso who had 1,035 points.

The award comes as a fitting tribute to Taulava who had had a league-high 23 double doubles, 20 of them through the semifinals, one triple double and leads the league in scoring (25.7), rebounding (14.6), shot blocks (1.5) and minutes played (42.6). He also has 3.2 assists per game.

Others who figured prominently in the Best Player race were Sta. Lucia's Dennis Espino (923), Coke's Rudy Hatfield (716) and Taulava's rookie teammate Jimmy Alapag (592).

Taulava averaged close to 25 points and 15 rebounds per game as he led Talk N Text to its first-ever All-Filipino finals appearance since he joined the team. He posted single-game career-highs of 46 points and 26 rebounds last March 26 in a 114-92 win over Shell.

What made Taulava's feat more special was the fact he missed his team's first two games at the start of the conference due to his suspension after testing positive for drugs. (Noli Cortez)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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