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How Far Can Ivan Johnson Take His Tropa?

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Before we start, just who is Talk ‘N Text import Ivan Johnson?

Ivan Johnson averaged only 6.5 PPG and 3.9 RPG on a lethargic 15.8 percent three-point shooting in the NBA. He did not have a splendid career in America, which makes people wonder why the Tropang Texters management chose to bring him in to replace reigning PBA Commissioner’s Cup Best Import, Richard Howell.

Here’s an excerpt from Grantland’s Rembert Browne‘s Where has Ivan Johnson been all our lives?


Some facts about Ivan Johnson ivan-johnson-diamond-grill

1. He was a 27-year old rookie in the NBA. Just to put that in perspective, he’s the same age as LeBron, but it was already LeBron’s 9th season when Johnson entered the league.*

2. In a span of four years, he has played college basketball at four colleges. Two were Junior Colleges, one was Cal State San Bernardino, and the other was Oregon. Johnson left Oregon because his coach did not renew his scholarship due to “anger management issues.” I wonder if these problems persist?

3. He played overseas in South Korea from 2008-2010. How did it end? BANNED FOR LIFE.

4. He played in the NBA D-League in 2010-2011 before entering the NBA. In his first nine games, he had five technicals and an ejection.

5. He has a diamond grill and keeps it in during the game.


*Updated to keep up with the times

Richard Howell

Richard Howell

Johnson was known as an enforcer, while Howell was already familiar with Talk ‘N Text’s system. Howell also had some facets of the game that Johnson didn’t have, particularly rolling to the hoop, which is destructive together with Jayson Castro as the pick and roll ball handler.

In spite of this, Johnson has been on a tear lately. He has earned his spot with the Tropang Texters and his terrific numbers are there to prove it.

First four games (2-2): 28.5 PPG on 24.25 shots, 41.24 percent FGs, 21.21 percent 3-PT FGs, 49.93 true shooting percentage (TS%), 1.18 points per shot (PPS)
Last two games (2-0): 44 PPG on 26 shots, 61.54 percent FGs, 65 percent 3-PT FGs, 75.65 TS%, 1.69 PPS. To give fans a perspective,

DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers is the top player in the NBA right now in PPS with 1.76. Big men normally have a higher PPS as they do average a higher field goal percentage.

The Tropang Texters walloped two perennial contenders in the span of one week. They led by as much as 29 against San Miguel before pulling off a 113-93 win. They led Alaska by 25 before averting disaster with a 101-93 victory.

Against the Aces last Sunday, Johnson fired 30 points in the first half alone, one shy of the Aces’ 31. He finished with 47 points on nine-of-14 shooting from three-point land.

In those wins, coach Jong Uichico’s wards outscored their opponents by 21.5 points when Johnson is on the floor. When Johnson is on the bench, the Tropang Texters get outscored by 7.5 points.

The biggest difference between the first four games and the last two games is Johnson lighting it up from the outside. This is big for a unit that loves to beat opponents with strong drives to the hoop. Johnson staying in the three-point area (and being effective from deep) will help the Tropang Texters pull out the opposing teams’ bigs, and open the lane for their penetrators to attack. Equipped with a lot of good shooters (Talk ‘N Text has five guys in the top 20 of three-point field goal percentage), it makes it even more dangerous for other teams to contend against the Tropang Texters.

Moreover, the Tropang Texters have done well in every Commissioner’s Cup since 2011.

SEASONSEED AFTER ELIMSFINISHOVERALL RECORD
20111Champion15-3
20121Runner-up13-8
20136Semifinals11-10
20141Runner-up13-3
20152????

With the exception of the 2013 season, where the Tropang Texters were badly depleted with injuries (yet they still managed to make it to the semis), Talk ‘N Text has always been in the conversation for top teams in the PBA season’s middle conference.

They made it to the finals in three of the last four editions of the Commissioner’s Cup. In 2014, they went on a 12-game winning run before getting shocked by Purefoods in the finals. Moreover, the imports they have been getting are players who can space the floor well, and can also finish strong around the rim: Paul Harris, Richard Howell, and now Ivan Johnson(quite surprisingly).

Talk ‘N Text is the no. 2 seed heading into the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. They have secured a twice-to-beat edge, and are poised to make another deep run. That is if Johnson continues to complement the locals well with his great shooting and unselfishness.

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Basketball

Loaded Wangs-Letran wallops AMA in debut

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Armed with new recruits, the Wangs Basketball-Letran Knights embarked on its new chapter with a rousing 93-75 rout of the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the Pasig Sports Center.

Everyone clicked for the Couriers with Bong Quinto spearheading the blowout with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Newcomer Bonbon Batiller added 15 markers, five boards, and three dimes in his debut, while starting point guard JP Calvo chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

Christian Fajarito also registered 11 markers and nine boards, while Alex Mandreza had 10 points for Wangs-Letran.

Despite the promising showing, coach Jeff Napa said that he still wants to see more from his Couriers moving forward.

“Masaya kami syempre dahil nanalo. Pero marami pa rin kaming kailangang gawin,” he said as he wanted more from the Knights after outrebounding the Titans, 57-44.

Quinto and Calvo triggered Wangs-Letran’s second quarter pullaway to establish the 38-26, lead which grew to as high as 22 points, 81-59 in the payoff period.

Michael Cañete topscored AMA with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kris Porter had 13 in the defeat.

Wangs-Letran will have vengeance on their minds on Monday, January 29 when it takes on NCAA tormentors Che’lu- San Sebastian Revellers. AMA, on the other hand, will have a tough assignment when it takes on the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers on Thursday, January 25.

The Scores:

Wangs-Letran 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.

AMA Online Education 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.

Quarterscores: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75.

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Jovie Prado, Arellano make epic comeback against Perpetual to remain unscathed

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The defending NCAA Women’s Volleyball champions Arellano University Lady Chiefs would just not give up.

Down two sets, the Lady Chiefs turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in five thrilling sets, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Outside hitter Jovielyn Prado and middle attacker Andrea Marzan showed up and produced their expected numbers in this crucial tussle at 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Head coach Obet Javier was still optimistic that his players can pull it off after the 0-2 hole. “Siyempre, kailangan mong magtiwala sa players mo,” he said.

The long-time coach added, “Nung first two sets, ang pangit ng laro namin. Siguro sa game, lumabas lang ‘yung maturity ng players ko at ‘yung pusong champion.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the day, but the deciding set was all Arellano as setter Sarah Verutiao fired off vicious serves after another and virtually bag the win with a 10-1 lead.

The reigning queens at 6-0 will try to extend their longest winning run in the league to 19 when they face fellow unscathed San Beda College (5-0) on Friday.

Bianca Tripoli registered 20 markers to pace the Lady Altas.

Perpetual (4-2) will take on Mapua University (0-5) on Tuesday, January 30.

The Scores:

AU 3 – Prado 20, Marzan 16, Arocha 14, Ebuen 7, Esguerra 4, Ramirez 1, Bello 1, Balanoba 0, Donato 0, Flores L, Buema L.

UPHSD 2 – Tripoli 20, Imbo 19, Clements 12, Verzosa 6, Llorente 5, Gual 3, Sangalang 3, Estanislao 0, Rosal 0, Umandal 0, Medalla L.

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Matt Nieto looks forward to learning from Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro

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When Matt Nieto made his way into the Meralco Gym on Monday evening, the 20-year-old quickly changed his clothes after receiving his Gilas jersey. And once he got dressed, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ floor general quickly went to work, as he wanted to absorb everything he can from the night’s session.

“Actually na-star struck ako. ‘Di ako makapaniwala na nandito ako eh,” expressed the six-foot point guard.

Playing and practicing with the players they idolized growing up has been a theme for almost all of the 23 for 2023 cadets. The same could be said about the wide-eyed Nieto, as he could not believe he was side-by-side with the present and the future of the game in Jayson Castro and Jiovani Jalalon.

“Nakita ko pa lang si idol Jiovani Jalalon, nakikita ko parang… di ako makapaniwala na sa isang practice magkasama kami.

“Sila Kiefer [Ravena], lalo na si Jalalon talaga at si Jayson Castro kasi talagang idol ko talaga sila eh. Napapasma nga ako nung una eh kasi parang baka akalain nila ‘sino ba to?’,” the one-time UAAP champion shared.

Nervous, Nieto tried to talk to Castro and Jalalon numerous times during the practice. The two did not turn, welcoming the young buck with open arms.

“Nung nakausap ko na sila medyo na ano na kasi hindi lang sila magaling, sobrang bait pa nila. Madali akong naka-adjust kaagad dito,” he beamed.

Coach Chot Reyes has high expectations with Nieto, as he is being groomed as one of the leaders for the 2023 team. Still, he knows that there is still a long way to go for him.

To become a better leader, the second-generation Blue Eagle knows who to reach out to.

“Gusto ko matuto kay Jayson pati kay Jiovani kasi same position kami. And of course yung leadership ni Kiefer, yung mentality na talagang laban kung laban.

“Gusto ko marami matutunan sa kanila kasi wala pa eh, wala pa ako sa peak ko. Sila andun na. So marami talaga akong matututunan sa kanila kasi sobrang galing nila at sobrang dami na nilang na-achieve sa kanilang basketball career,” Nieto gushed.

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SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader, had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder, while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off, as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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