Paulasi Taulava's (206-C-73, college: BYU-Hawaii) situation in the Philippines isn't getting better. The PBA commissioner said that he couldn't play in the PBA Cup despite a local court injuction, and his team lost 2-4 in the final series. The Department of Justice is looking into the possibility of filing criminal charges against him for obtaining Filipino citizenship through fraudulent means.
Taulava thought he would be cleared to play when he was able obtain a writ of preliminary injuction from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in late January, ordering the PBA Commissioner to lift the player's suspension. He played in the Game 1 of the Cup Finals series between his team Talk'N'Text and the Barangay Ginebra. While Taulava contributed minimal points and rebounds, his presence alone was enough to contain Ginebra’s big men, leading to an 89-71 victory by his team. Unfortunatly the PBA Board called this situation illegal and gave the victory to Ginebra, they decided to prevent Asi to play in the other games of the serie, his coach said that this decision was “demoralizing.”. His squad lost the Game 2 105-106.
“I wish there’s a chance I could be there right now to help my teammates defend the crown,” said Taulava after his team walloped Barangay Ginebra, 102-66, in Game 3 of the finals. “But it’s difficult right now" His side would also claim the Game 4 90-85 to tie the serie even at 2-2.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court denied the motion filed by PBA Commissioner Noli Eala for the court to reconsider its lifting of the suspension of Asi Taulava. But Eala, a lawyer by profession, said that although his office has yet to receive a copy of the decision, the PBA is expected to appeal, and the 6-foot-10 center remains suspended from the league. Without its best player, Talk'N'Text lost the Game 5 and 6 (85-95 after two overtime, 86-96 in front of 18000 fans.
A worst news came from the Department of Justice which is looking into the possibility of filing criminal charges against Taulava for obtaining Filipino citizenship through fraudulent means. According to Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez, Taulava could face charges or violation of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code for falsification of public documents. Hoping to press its extradition case against him, the Department of Justice put the center on a list of persons to be subpoenaed in order to investigate the alleged falsification of his birth certificate and determine his citizenship. Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez also said “new evidence” against Taulava will give the department the chance to lift the injunction order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court, which prevented the deportation of the PBA star.
But the future could get brighter. Taulava would have a last chance to prove his filipino roots, and after that he would be able to play for the Philippines National Team! The NT coach Chot Reyes virtually guaranteed a slot for Taulava in the 21-man training pool once the suspended center is cleared to play by the PBA.
“If he is cleared by the PBA, we will reserve a slot for him the in the training pool. Without that, I guess we cannot do much,” Reyes added.
We hope that this situation will be set in the near future, and that Paulasi Taulava won't be ban from the league as an example.