Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico explained that last weekend’s tumultuous practice game that saw import Ivan Johnson punch Blackwater’s young center JP Erram and shove Frank Golla was done out of the “American’s frustration in the way they were playing against the Elite.”
“Ivan was not frustrated with officiating but he was just frustrated because we were not playing to our potential in the (practice) game against Blackwater,” Uichico told FOX Sports.
The 53-year-old Uichico added that Johnson’s fiery approach at times has been misunderstood by PBA fans, though in reality, the former Atlanta Hawk’s behavior was borne out of his strong desire to win.
“He’s just a competitor, but again, his role for us is the same, rebound and defend,” he added.
Nonetheless, defending champion Talk ‘N Text will kick off the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on February 10 incidentally against the same Blackwater squad without the sweet-shooting Johnson.
The stocky American will be serving a one-game ban for the incident in the practice game aside from being slapped a P50,000 fine by league commissioner Chito Narvasa, who meted the punishment Wednesday.
Uichico said management might possibly write a letter of appeal to lift Johnson’s ban, but he did mention that they are already preparing to play without the flamboyant import.
“We got the memo already, and probably, management will write a letter of appeal but we don’t know what the decision (of Narvasa) will be,” he said.
“We’ll be able to adjust even without an import.”
Blackwater will be bannered by 23-year-old import MJ Rhett, a product of Ole Miss, who plays above the rim and can shoot from mid-range. — By Richard Dy