Tropang TNT officials questioned the swift decision of league commissioner Chito Narvasa to hand a lifetime ban on temperamental import Ivan Johnson on Saturday while the Tropa-Meralco Bolts game was ongoing at the Philsports Arena.
“Why ban a player for life without due process? You’re talking about careers being affected and for life,” Tropang TNT team manager Virgil Villavicencio said in reading a text message from a high-ranking team official, which he declined to name.
Villavicencio felt Narvasa’s decision appeared more like a knee-jerk response after Johnson cursed the league commissioner just before he was ejected in the 4:21 mark of the first half.
“Due process. Very simple. Because whatever decision is, dapat may due process and if it’s there, it’s there kasi we will abide naman,” he said.
“And whatever the evaluation is, bakit ora orada? So you mean to tell me, ‘I’m the rule?’”
The amiable Tropang TNT official said there’s no doubt that Johnson would be a big loss for the team because of the intensity he brings to the Tropa in practice and during a game.
“To tell you frankly, mawala lang yung init ng ulo or kiyeme kiyeme niya (Johnson), ang galing na player eh. When he wants to score, he scores. When he wants to defend, he defends. Total package eh,” said Villavicencio.
Aside from the lifetime ban, the 6-foot-8 Johnson has been slapped a hefty P250,000 fine, a similar penalty levied on former Petron import Renaldo Balkman by the PBA commissioner Chito Salud for choking his teammate Arwind Santos in March 2013.
Villavincencio said the team expects Johnson’s replacement to arrive anytime this coming week, but declined to reveal the name for the time being.
The Tropa won’t play till Friday against the GlobalPort Batang Pier at the Mall of Asia Arena. – By Richard Dy