PHONE PALS CLOBBER TIGERS;  ASI'S  ROOTS  QUESTIONED  ANEW

MANILA, May 27, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Nelson Beltran  -  Talk n Text, faced with the latest development on main man Asi Taulava’s citizenship case, repulsed Coca-Cola, 116-110, to keep a shot at an outright berth in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference quarterfinals at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Phone Pals got away with a closing three-game romp in the preliminary round that assured the team of at least a tie for second place with an 11-7 win-loss card. But their bid to join the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals now hinges on the latest controversy involving Taulava.

In a recent report, the National Bureau of Investigation alleged that Taulava is a "Fil-sham" based on records provided by United States immigration authorities.

A communique sent by the US Department of Homeland Security to the NBI’s Interpol Unit last Monday apparently proved that Taulava’s mother Pauline has no Filipino roots. The records said that Asi’s mother was born July 13, 1946 in Vaotu’u, Tangatapu, Tonga.

But Taulava took the report in stride, churning out another double-double game with 21 points and 13 assists to help the Phone Pals notch the important win.

"This has been going on for years. Everytime we’re near playoff time, something like this happens. They’re trying to distract me," said Taulava.

"It’s nothing new. This matter has been taken up before," said Taulava’s legal counsel Atty. Gary de Jesus.

Talk n Text team manager Frankie Lim, meanwhile, alleged this new development is "an orchestrated move" aimed at distracting the team from its campaign in the ongoing conference.

De Jesus suggested that those questioning the citizenship of Taulava file a case in court so the Talk n Text behemoth can answer the charges in the proper forum.

Though the Phone Pals assured themselves of a tie for second place, a lot of things can still happen in their bid, depending on the results of the last games of the Alaska Aces on Saturday and the Red Bull Barako Thunder and the Tigers on Sunday.

The Phone Pals gain a free lift into the quarters in case the Aces, the Thunder and the Tigers all lose their final assignments.

A three-way tie among Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Talk n Text will pave the way for a playoff between the Thunder and the Phone Pals for No. 2.

Talk n Text, however, automatically settles for No. 4 in case it figures in a three-way tie with Coca Cola and Alaska or Red Bull and Alaska.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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