Ginebra import Orlando Johnson hopeful PBA will serve as stepping stone to return to NBA
Orlando Johnson has come up with monster numbers, although the Kings remain in the bottom half of the standings. Jaime Campos

ALTHOUGH Ginebra isn’t anywhere near where its legions of fans want it to be, the support has been overwhelming for import Orlando Johnson and the former Indiana Pacer is eager to pay it back.

The standout from the University of California Santa Barbara debuted with 50 points in Ginebra’s 108-99 loss to Alaska, before following it up with a 46-point performance in the team’s 91-95 defeat to Talk ‘N Text.

Johnson continued his scoring rampage when he dropped 47 to help the injury-riddled Ginebra pull off a 105-98 win over a tough KIA side last week.

Blackwater handed Ginebra its third loss, 83-77, as Johnson came up with 30 points and the Kings remained in the bottom half of the standings.

But the fans appreciate Johnson’s efforts and he vows to give his very best every game.

“Probably the best fans I’ve ever had, really love the support I get from them because every time I play, the messages I see, just a lot of love from them,” Johnson told Spin.ph after Ginebra’s practice on Monday at the CCF gym in Ortigas, Pasig.

“I want to go out and play my best.”

[See Impressive Johnson numbers bring back memories of Mitchell Wiggins' time with Ginebra]

Aside from trying to revive his struggling club, Johnson is also working on his game in the pro league, which he hopes to serve as a stepping stone on a return to the NBA.

“I’m just getting better on my craft here in the PBA. I’m enjoying my time here to give myself another chance to make another run at a long, successful career in the NBA,” Johnson said.

Prior to joining Ginebra, the 6-foot-4 Johnson had a strong stint with the Austin Spurs in the NBA D-League where he averaged 17.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 43 games.

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The sweet-shooting Johnson played two seasons for the Indiana Pacers, averaging 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.7 assist in 89 games. He then joined the Sacramento Kings in the 2013-14 season where he played seven games.

At 26, Johnson isn’t giving up on his dream of returning to the NBA, saying his chance to work alongside Indiana star Paul George and former Pacer Danny Granger taught him a lot of things.

“I learned a lot from some of the great players and got a chance to play and prove what they taught me on the court,” said Johnson, selected 36th overall by the Sacramento Kings during the 2012 NBA Draft.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava