Tonga is not a great basketball country but one of its child is actually one the best player in the Philipines. He played in the US, Sweden, Brazil and faced deportation in Philipines. Here is the story of Paulasi "Asi" Taulava (206-C-73, college: BYU-Hawaii).
Asi was born in 1973 from a tongan father and a filipino mother. Strong like many tongans, he's taller than most of them with 206cm heigh. He decided to leave to study at California State Bakersfiled, an US college. But there the basketball coaches made him joined the basketball squad. With the team he won back-to-back NCAA II championships in 1994 and 1995.After averaging 7.6pts 6.5rbs in his junir year, the lack of playing time and island mood forced him to transfer to BYU-Hawaii for his senior year. There he raised his numbers to 13.5pts 6.6rbs.
He signs his first professional contract with Guarulhos in Brazil (20pts 12rbs), the next year he would play for M7 Boras in Sweden! That was a shock for this south pacific kid there but he enjoyed his stay averaging 17.0pts 50.7%FG 10.4rbs in 31 minutes per game (32gp) in a team owned by a certain Magic Johnson at that time. He met Magic once, one day deeply routed in his memory.
Taulava then use his filipino routs to play in the Philipinnes PBA for two seasons with Mobiline (17.0pts 10.4rbs in the first year, 23.0pts 14.5rbs in the second one). Looking for a better level of play he signed a contract with Atenas Cordoba (Argentina) but the contract was woived when he failed to get a visa for Argentina. So he played the 2000-01 season with the San Diego Wildfire in the US minor league ABA. He averaged 9.7pts 39.7%FG 6.0rbs in 25 minutes, played 22 games before being released in March 2001.
Now a father he choose stability and decided to play in the Philipines until the end of his career, but the future wouldn't let him relax. In May 2003 a Filipino Senate Comitee urged the Immigration Bureau to start Deportation proceeding about 5 basketball players including Paulasi who had fakes filipino citizenships! Paulasi Taulava received his filipino passport in 2001.
The trial was held in June 2004, his lawyers managed to proove that is a true Filipino but the problem is that Asi falsified the documents he submitted to the Immigration Bureau when he arrived in the Philipines concerning his mother's citizenship. Finally the lawyers managed to prove that his mother was born in San Jose, Philipines and that even Asi was born in Philipines. So despite some deep tongan routs, Paulasi Taulava is half-filipino and should be able to stay in the country. The jury's verdict will be call in the next monthes but Asi is likely to be cleared.
We hope he would be able to continue his great career in the Filipino league after being voted MVP, Finals MVP and champion in 2003. He has been recently awarded MVP of the PBA All-Star game thanks to his 26pts 13rbs 3bs.