TNT rues lack of due process on banned import Johnson

MANILA, Philippines – Tropang TNT wished the PBA went through due process before import Ivan Johnson was banned for life and fined P250,000 in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday, February 13. 

Speaking to reporters after the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned TNT dropped the game to Meralco, 88-84, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig, team manager Virgil Villavicencio relayed a text message to him by one of the team’s bosses. 

“Why ban a player for life without due process? We are talking about careers being affected and for life,” Villavicencio said, reading the text message, but did not reveal who the message was from. 

“Due process. Very simple. Whatever the decision is, dapat (there should be) due process,” he reiterated. 

The 31-year-old American import was banned from the league and fined after throwing profanities at PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa late in the second quarter.

League media bureau chief Willie Marcial explained Johnson hurled a “f*ck you” as he was looking away from Narvasa, who rose to his feet and pointed a finger at the player and had to be restrained by Marcial.

The choice words came at the end of Johnson’s rant as Narvasa was motioning for the import to keep quiet. Johnson was ejected at the 4:21 of the second period after incurring his second technical foul plus a flagrant foul penalty 1. 

It took one hour and 13 minutes from the time Johnson was ejected to the time the PBA officially announced his lifetime ban.

Hindi naman (Not really),” Villavicencio said when asked whether he felt the decision was too hasty. “Just due process. If it’s there, it’s there. We will abide. Wala naman kaming ano diyan (We don’t have anything against that). But give some due process before.”

“Whatever the evaluation is,” added Villavicencio, who also admitted at halftime before the ban that he was puzzled by Narvasa’s actions when the commissioner stood up and left his box. 

“So you mean to tell me, ‘I’m the rule’? Even in spite, di ba?”

Johnson aired comments on Twitter after the PBA’s decision, saying “The devil is working overtime,” in one tweet. In another, he said: “The fines that I've gotten have never been issued out to nobody. What's the hate against me? 

Defending champion TNT, which is now 1-1 after the loss, will look to find a replacement before its next game on Friday, February 19 against Globalport. 

“There’s no decision yet on who to take but we have a back-up,” Villavicencio said. “The coaches will decide.” 

Johnson, a former Atlanta Hawks player, was whistled for his first technical at the 9:02 mark of the second for second motion on Kelly Nabong. His flagrant foul came from elbowing Bryan Faundo on the face, and his second tech was after his encounter with the commissioner.

The comebacking import missed TNT’s first game as he served out a one-game suspension owing to a pre-conference punching incident during a tune-up game versus Blackwater. He was also fined P50,000 for the incident. 

Johnson, who fast developed notoriety for his aggressive antics last season, finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds and a block in close to 16 minutes of play. (LOOK BACK: Johnson, Araña get into altercation near arena parking lot)

Johnson was fined P150,000 as well during last year’s Commissioner’s Cup after bumping Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao during Game 1 of the finals. 

The last import to be banned from the league was Renaldo Balkman, for choking Arwind Santos in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup. – Rappler.com