HOPEFULLY the gamble pays off for Talk ‘N Text.
The Tropang Texters parade new import Ivan Johnson, who tries to keep the team’s hot streak in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as it faces sister team NLEX in Friday’s curtain raiser at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The decision of Talk ‘N Text management to tap Johnson and replace Richard Howell came as a big surprise considering the former Best Import awardee has been churning out impressive numbers of 19.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in leading the team to a 4-1 record.
But coach Jong Uichico stressed the feels the entry of Johnson, a former Atlanta Hawk, can bring in additional inside scoring for the Tropang Texters, who don’t have a legitimate big man.
With the 6-foot-7 Johnson in tow, Talk ‘N Text shoots for no less than a third straight win and maintain its grip of second spot in the standings in its 4:15 p.m. match versus NLEX.
Johnson, snubbed in the 2007 NBA Draft but managed to crack Atlanta’s roster spot after being noted by then head coach Larry Drew for his “blue-collar mentality, played in a total of 125 regular season games and averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds off the bench.
The 30-year-old former Cal State San Bernardino standout has also toiled in the NBA D-League, playing for such teams as the Anaheim Arsenal, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Erie Bayhawks, and just recently, the Texas Legends.
One downside to Johnson’s personality is his quick temper.
The NBA veteran had sentenced to a lifetime ban by the Korean Basketball League for directing a middle-finger gesture at a game official during a championship series.
On the other hand, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez couldn’t care less about Talk ‘N Text’s new import, saying he’d rather focus on the Road Warriors’ playoff chase at this point.
NLEX broke into the win column on Tuesday after blasting expansion team Blackwater, 106-79, behind import Al Thornton’s 39-point and14-rebound performance.
“Losing against Purefoods with the way we played then, it’s not acceptable. We’ve been practicing really well, but it’s just that it didn’t materialize pa in the game,” Fernandez said, referring to the team’s 87-62 defeat to the Hotshots, which served as a wake-up call for NLEX’s 27-point victory over Blackwater.