MANILA, Philippines – A second go with the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup for import and former NBA player Ivan Johnson is still possible, according to team head coach Jong Uichico.
Speaking to the media after his Tropang Texters were eliminated in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Monday, December 28, Uichico confirmed Talk ’N Text has yet to decide on an import for next conference, but expects that decision to be made soon with Johnson as one of the candidates.
“Wala pa, wala pa (None yet). We’ll start looking,” the 53-year-old head coach said, before later explaining further:
“I don’t know yet, I don’t know. I’m not sure, but we’ll find an import. We still have some time naman (anyway).”
Johnson, 31, made his PBA debut in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup when he replaced Richard Howell.
The former Atlanta Hawk and NBA D-League All-Star averaged 33.7 points and 14.3 rebounds a game during 6 elimination round contests, and in 12 playoff games put up 23.3 points and 11.9 rebounds a game while shooting 45.4% from the field and 34.2% from downtown, per Humblebola stats.
Attaining Johnson was a wise move for Talk ’N Text as he helped lead the team to a championship after a 7-game finals series against Rain or Shine.
“He’s also considered din naman,” Uichico, a 9-time PBA champion head coach, said about Johnson. “so we’ll make our final decision in the next few days siguro (I guess).
“He’s ready to come naman, so if we decide on bringing him in, then he’ll just come.”
However, there were some controversial moments while he was in the PBA as well.
After Game 1 of the Commissioner’s Cup finals, he was fined P150,000 by the Office of the Commissioner for bumping Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, who then called out the import.
“I’m not surprised because that’s been his reputation. It’s probably a lack of breeding, it’s a lack of respect,” Guiao said at that time.
“One reason he’s out of the NBA, one reason he’s playing overseas, and not getting a good reputation, is exactly because of what he does,” said Guiao.
After Game 6 of the series, Guiao again called out Johnson by saying he’s “mentally unstable.”
Talk ’N Text also expects to have star big man Ranidel De Ocampo back in action for next conference. The national team player injured his back during a weight-lifting session early in the season and wound up playing just one game in the Philippine Cup.
“He should be. He should be available. He’s about 50, 60 percent, so pag continuous yung training niya (if his training is continuous), he should be back by the second conference,” said Uichico.
“He has not been practicing yet, but he’s been training. He’s running, shooting…” – Rappler.com
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