Denzel Bowles takes on Ivan Johnson in battle of in-form imports. Who has the edge?
Purefoods import Denzel Bowles has been on a tear of late, but so is Talk 'N Text counterpart Ivan Johnson. Jaime Campos

PUREFOODS import Denzel Bowles is looking forward to his match-up against Ivan Johnson when the defending PBA Commissioner’s Cup champions go up against Talk `N Text at the start of their semifinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“We both can score and we’re both hot right now. And since we faced each other, we haven’t lost, but it’s gonna be a tough series,” Bowles told after the team’s practice on Tuesday at Ronac gym in San Juan.

The 6-foot-9 Bowles has been sizzling hot entering the semis, averaging 31.3 points on 49-percent field goal shooting, to go along with 14.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 3.0 blocks as he steered the Hotshots to six straight wins, including a two-game sweep of the Alaska Aces in the quarterfinals.

In the only match-up between Purefoods and Talk ‘N Text in the eliminations, Bowles scored 11 of his 30 points in three overtimes as the Hotshots outlasted the Tropang Texters, 118-117, in an epic game on March 14 in Davao City.

Johnson didn’t finish the game after fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

But Bowles is not belittling Johnson’s offensive skills, noting the former Atlanta Hawks forward is a legitimate inside and outside scoring threat.

“I’ve seen his (Johnson’s) game. He’s hot right now so we gotta stop what he does best because right now, he’s hitting his jump shots,” Bowles said.

Johnson has hit his stride for the Tropang Texters in their last three games by averaging 40.1 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 2.3 steals while making 61 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

Bowles also noticed Johnson seemed to have a short fuse, though he mentioned the Hotshots don’t intend to mess with the Talk ‘N Text import, who is known for his volatile temper.

“That’s (attempt to make Johnson lose his temper) one thing we’re not gonna go into,” he said. “We don’t know how he’s gonna act, so we’re gonna play our game, and whatever happens, happens. It’s always important to get the first game.”

Although he has been carrying the scoring brunt for the defending champions the past six games, Bowles stressed he won’t do anything beyond the triangle offense as he recognizes the strong local support he has.

“I’m a willing passer and so I have a lot of scorers around me. And when my (local) guys get their shots, they are shooting at a very high percentage,” noted the 25-year-old Bowles, who steered the Purefoods franchise to the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup title.


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