Johnson looking to help Alapag succeed in his first head coach stint
Jimmy Alapag and Ivan Johnson have history together at Talk ‘N Text in 2015.
Alapag served as TNT team manager while Johnson led the team to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.
Fast forward to 2017, the two are reunited, this time, at Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League.
Alapag, who is making his head coaching debut with Alab, knows what Johnson is fully capable of.
“I think he’s an incredible talent and I think his stint here in the ABL will give Filipino fans an opportunity to show that the passion he has for the game is the same passion that we have,” said Alapag.
The 33-year-old Johnson spent two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and averaged 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and nearly a steal per game.
TNT brought back Johnson in 2016 but unlike his first stint, things didn’t go well for the San Antonio, Texas native after a run-in with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa, who initially imposed a lifetime ban and P250,000 fine before reducing it to just one season and P150,000 after a public apology was issued.
Alapag thinks Filipino fans will see the mercurial Johnson in a different light and appreciate what he brings to the table.
“I know he’s ready to embrace our fans and I’m sure our fans will embrace him as well as we prepare for this season.”
Johnson was hesitant to give this reporter an interview but gladly obliged when told questions will be about Alapag.
Wearing a menacing grin, Johnson smiled often as he spoke fondly of Alapag, who turned out to be the major reason why he wanted to part of Alab.
“Jimmy got the utmost respect from me. Just to see him come from a player now he’s a coach. He knows what the players want,” Johnson told INQUIRER.net.
“And it’s good for him to be a players’ coach because he understands what the players are going through and that’s the main reason why I’m back here because I want to see him do good in his first year so we’re going to make something real nice over here.”
Johnson is joined by the likes of former PBA veteran Dondon Hontiveros and reigning local MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. as the leaders of the team.
“Everybody can run. Everybody can play. We got good pieces to the team.”
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