IVAN Johnson may be Talk 'N Text's hottest player entering the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals, but his volatile temper is also the team's biggest concern.
The 6-7 former Atlanta Hawk has hit his stride for the Tropang Texters, averaging 40.1 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals over his last three games while making 61 percent of his shots from three-point distance.
But over the same stretch, he has gotten involved in skirmishes with Alaska's Calvin Abueva, a shouting match with Aces coach Alex Compton, and a shoving incident with Barako Bull's JC Intal.
No wonder there were fears a player who got a bad rap in the NBA and in Korea for his short fuse may finally snap as the Tropang Texters enter the semifinals, given the physicality in the playoffs.
Combo guard Jayson Castro, however, was quick to ease the fears.
“Ah hindi naman (Johnson’s volatile temper won’t be a problem). Alam na rin naman namin paano siya kontrolin,” said Castro, who often acts as 'peacemaker' whenever Johnson gets into trouble.
On Saturday, Castro immediately entered the picture to try to pacify Johnson when the former Cal State San Bernardino standout shoved Intal, getting called for a technical foul in the process.
The 28-year-old Castro said team manager Jimmy Alapag is always on top of the situation as far as managing Johnson’s temper is concerned
“Si Jimmy, alam niya paano siya (Johnson) sabihan,” he added.
Keeping Johnson in check, though, may be a problem in the best-of-five series against defending champion Purefoods, which has a long line of bruising big men that could get in the import's head.
Still, Castro expects the physical nature of the playoffs only brings out the best in Johnson.
“Gusto namin 'yun (playoff physicality) kasi mas lalo siyang ginaganahan,” said the former Philippine Christian University standout.
On the other hand, Talk 'N Text veteran Ranidel de Ocampo couldn't care less, admitting only a few team members get to talk to the import.
“Bahala na siya, kung ano gusto niya gawin. Wala naman masyadong kumakausap sa kanya kasi medyo nakakailang,” De Ocampo said matter-of-factly.