Jayson Castro remains upbeat of TNT's title-retention bid despite Ivan Johnson ban
Jayson Castro was tightlipped about the Ivan Johnson ban but remained upbeat about their title-retention bid. Jerome Ascano

TROPANG TNT players kept tightlipped regarding the decision of the PBA to ban Ivan Johnson for life after an altercation with commissioner Chito Narvasa on Saturday.

TNT star Jayson Castro declined to comment on the severity of Johnson’s punishment, simply raising his hands and remaining tightlipped when asked about the matter.

Rookie big man Mo Tautuaa, though, offered a few words before hitting the brakes.

“I don’t want to be in trouble for anything, but it’s harsh,” the Fil-Tongan said.

“I don’t want to speak on it too much. I’m new here, so I’m not used to seeing these kinds of calls and people getting thrown out, and getting banned,” he added.

While they insist Johnson is friendly off the court, the TNT players admit the former NBA player is “intense” and really “passionate” when he’s playing.

“I like him. In practice, he’s fun. He jokes a lot with me,” Tautuaa said. “But he’s definitely a different player when we play. He’s intense. He wants to win.”

“Sobrang bait niya, kaso yung emotion at passion niya sa basketball, kaya siguro nangyayari yung ganun,” Castro said for his part.

Tautuaa admitted the loss of Johnson is a huge setback for the Texters.

“Our entire offense runs through him,” the 2015 No.1 overall pick said. “Without him, we got to change everything up again.”

Still, Castro remained upbeat of their title-retention bid.

“Masyado pa namang maaga para maapektuhan (yung title defense),” the reigning Best Player of the Commissioner’s Cup said. “For sure, yung mga coaches naman may mga plan na kung sino ang kukunin nila.”

“Yung goal namin nandun pa naman.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos