IT’S PBA playoffs time and Talk ‘N Text’s Ivan Johnson has got to embrace such atmosphere.
Coach Jong Uichico said his import should get accustomed to the physical plays and taunting from other teams primarily aimed at him especially in the playoffs of the Commissioner’s Cup.
“Alam naman nila siyempre playoffs na. The intensity and emotions are so high. So he just had to be ready for that,” said Uichico of the 6-foot-8 Johnson following a near endgame scuffle between him and Calvin Abueva that marred the Tropang Texters’ 101-93 win over Alaska Sunday night.
Although the eliminations won’t end until Wednesday, Alaska and Talk ‘N Text dueled in a playoff-type match as the Tropang Texters were gunning for the No. 2 seeding and twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.
The telecommunication franchise did accomplish what they were after, but at the expense of once again exposing Johnson’s highly-publicized bad temper.
The 30-year-old Johnson had a documented series of misconduct while playing in the NBA and the Korean Basketball League (KBL). He was once sent home and fined an undisclosed amount for 'conduct detrimental to the team' while still playing for the Atlanta Hawks, and had been ‘banned forever’ in the KBL after a middle-finger gesture towards a game official during a championship game.
But Uichico came to the defense of the prolific import, who finished with 47 points, including nine three-pointers, and 10 rebounds in his best game so far in a Talk ‘N Text uniform.
“You see naman the past games wala naman talaga,” he said when asked if he’s bothered by the short fuse of the NBA veteran. “It’s the playoffs, like anybody else, magtataas ang emotions. It’s only now that things escalated.”
Uichico also indirectly implied Abueva had gone overboard as he tried to get in the nerves of Johnson in their head-to-head duel.
“Pagkatapos ng laro, dapat tapos na. Our import was going out anyway already,” said Uichico, reportedly the one who moved to bring in Johnson to replace former Best Import Richard Howell.
“I didn’t see it because I was at the back, pero dapat tapos na.”