MANILA, Philippines – Speaking from experience, Star Hotshots’ veteran Marc Pingris has long known import Ivan Johnson would never be free from techincal fouls or ejections in games.
But he did not quite expect a sudden lifetime ban to be slapped on Johnson.
“Hindi ko inaasahan na iba-ban siya pero inaasahan ko na maraming technical,” Pingris explained Saturday, February 13 after Star’s second straight loss of the conference. “Alam kong marami siyang out of the playing court, ganun. Darating yun, darating sa kanyang ugali. Pero nagagawa niya siguro yun dahil gusto niya lang talagang manalo." (READ: Banned TNT import Johnson: 'The devil is working overtime')
(I did not expect him to be banned but I always expected him to have plenty of technicals. I knew there’d be many times he would be out of the playing court. It’ll happen because of his attitude. But he is probably like that because he really wants to win.)
However the veteran forward, who previously had an altercation with Johnson in Game 2 of the semifinals during last year’s Commissioner’s Cup, did express relief after finding out Johnson was banned.
“Yes!” he exclaimed, when told of the news.
It can be recalled that Johnson waited for Pingris to enter the dugout tunnel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after TNT secured the victory over Star (then Purefoods) last year. Johnson taunted and cursed at Pingris then in the aftermath of a heated match-up between the two teams.
Both players had been slapped with double technicals during the fourth quarter of that game. There were no repercussions for that incident.
“Mainitin talaga ulo niya e,” Pingris said. “Ganun na talaga yung history niya e. Na-ban siya sa Korea and then sa D-League ang dami niya rin nakaaway. And then dito (He is really hot-headed. That’s been his history. He was banned in Korea and then in the D-League, he was involved in a lot of fights)."
Johnson, who was previously banned from the Korean Basketball League in 2010 for flicking off a referee, was handed the lifetime ban on top of a P250,000-fine on Saturday after he cursed at commissioner Chito Narvasa towards the end of the first half in TNT’s game against Meralco.
The ban was a bitter culmination to the ill-tempered Johnson’s infamous PBA career that saw him involved in a string of scuffles and commotions, which rapidly solidified his notorious “bad boy” reputation.
Johnson also got fined P150,000 last season for bumping Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao in the Commissioner’s Cup finals. He also had another altercation with then Painters guard Ryan Araña at an arena parking lot. (READ: Guiao on banned Johnson: 'He's a world-class a*shole')
Pingris even recalled an incident during the official height measurement where he said Johnson declared, “I'm here to play basketball” to the coaches before walking away.
TNT expressed disappointment, saying there was no due process on the part of the PBA before coming out with a decision. Johnson likewise aired his sentiments on his Twitter account, saying, “The devil is working overtime.”
Some TNT players and assistant coach Josh Reyes also took to Twitter to air their dismay over the rapid decision.
“Alam kong masama yung loob ng mga TNT player pero alam naman natin si commissioner e, siya yung tatay natin dito e,” Pingris said. “So siya yung nakakaalam niyan. So siya yung magde-desisyon kung ganun nga, ban talaga siya. E di maghanap na lang talaga sila ng import.”
(I know the TNT players probably feel bad now but we know the commissioner is like our father here. He knows that. He makes the decisions and if it’s a ban, then so be it. Now they need to look for an import.)
“Sayang magaling dapat siya. Beterano, magaling, tapos sila yung defending champion ngayon di ba? Pero ganun yung attitude mo, kailangan ma-control mo rin talaga e,” he added.
(What a waste, he’s good. A veteran, great play, plus they’re the defending champion now, right? But if you have that kind of attitude, you really need to control yourself.) – Rappler.com