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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 Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times How Far Can Ivan Johnson Take His Tropa?

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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times How Far Can Ivan Johnson Take His Tropa?

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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