Castro, Tautuaa find lifetime ban on Johnson ‘too harsh’

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Tropang TNT rookie Moala Tautuaa find the banning of import Ivan Johnson by league commissioner Chito Narvasa as “too harsh,” saying the former Atlanta Hawk is a different person during practice.

“I don’t know, it was too harsh you know. What calls did he (Johnson) get? He got 2 fouls. A technical and flagrant 1, then he gets thrown out. How many players have gotten that before?” Tautuaa told media men, moments after Tropang TNT dropped a close 84-88 decision Saturday against sister team Meralco Bolts at the Philsports Arena.

Read: Where’s due process? TNT officials slam Narvasa’s swift lifetime ban on Johnson

The 6-foot-7 Tautuaa couldn’t believe what he heard when media men covering the game broke the news to him that Johnson was banned from the league by Narvasa while the Tropa-Bolts game was ongoing.

“I’m new here and I’m not used to seeing these kinds of calls and getting thrown out and banned. I don’t know what to say about that,” he said.

“That’s news to me. I wish this is a lie, but we just got to take a step a time and see what happens after this.”

Read: Ivan Johnson gets lifetime ban from PBA

However, the Fil-Tongan top PBA rookie pick last year said practice is “fun” with Johnson.

“He’s a good teammate. I like him. He’s fun in practice and he’s definitely a different player (in the game). He’s intense, he likes to win and he wants to win,” said the 26-year-old TNT rookie big man.

“I got lots of respect for him. He’s a good player.”

Read: TNT coach Uichico explains Johnson’s outburst vs Blackwater

Veteran guard Jayson Castro shared the former PBA D-League MVP’s sentiment.

“Sobrang bait niya., kaso yung emotions niya, saka passion niya sa basketball siguro, kaya nangyari yung ganun pero nakikipag-biruan siya especially kina Mo and Harvey,” said the “Blur”.

Although Johnson is already banned from the league, Castro believes the team is motivated in its bid for back-to-back Commissioner’s Cup crown.

“Oo naman (motivated to win). Iyung nangyari sa amin sa All-Filipino na we fell short, di nga kami nakapasok ng semis eh, so ngayon ang goal is makapasok naman ng semis then let’s see kung makapasok ng Finals,” said Castro, a three-time PBA Best Player.

Read: Blackwater’s Erram: I was trying to help Johnson up before skirmish