SPORTS COMMENTARY: Super Import seeks for local aid | The Summit Express

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SPORTS COMMENTARY: Super Import seeks for local aid



MANILA, Philippines – “I’m not exactly sure why Orlando Johnson is not in the NBA. He’s good.” These are the words that Alaska Head Coach Alex Compton uttered after their win against the crowd favorite Brgy. Ginebra Gin Kings in commendation to the prolific reinforcement’s 50-point effort.

Orlando Johnson posterizes Kevin Ighalo
Orlando Johnson posterizes Kevin Ighalo | Credit: Arvin Lim/ABS-CBN

The 26 year old, 6’5” Johnson was drafted 36th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2012 but was immediately shipped to the Indiana Pacers where he averaged 3.7 PPG. He was waived by the Pacers in 2014 and had a chance to play for the team who drafted him for a 10-day contract period. He signed a 1-year deal with Spanish team Laboral Kutxa Vitoria but was also released after six games.

After 2014 - 2015 NBA D-League season with Austin Spurs, Orlando Johnson inked with Brgy. Ginebra Gin Kings as their Governor’s Cup reinforcement along with Asian import Sanchir Tungalag from Mongolia.

All eyes were on Johnson during the start of the conference. Nobody knew how the new “Kabarangay” plays on the hard court unlike come backing imports like Marcus Douthit, Steven Thomas, Arizona Reid just to name a few who are capable of giving their respective teams wins.

Lots of pressure on Johnson even before the conference started, with Gins’ Twin Towers: Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter in sick bay plus their wing man Chris Ellis who is also out for the entire conference due to a right ankle injury. Gins’ newly appointed Head Coach Frankie Lim is relying heavily on his imports especially on the American shooting guard.

Orlando Johnson showcased his talents during their first game against the Alaska Aces and exploded for a very rare 50 humongous points. Despite of his explosion, Gins fell short. After his 50-point game, basketball aficionados still doubted Johnson.

I can call it a fluke. Or, just a pure luck. But it was his first game. PBA imports usually do not score much during their first two games at least due to: cohesion issues with new teammates; warm weather and; most of the time, jet lags. But this guy, made himself a marked-man with 50 unbelievable points as if playing with his new team for quite so long.

I wasn’t a believer. I don’t easily give in with just a single game output. “I’ll give this guy couple of games more. If he scores big again, then I’ll believe.” I told myself.

May 10, 2015. Ginebra’s second game against the newly crowned Commissioner’s Cup Champions, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. Orlando Johnson scored big time once again, this time, just two shots short compared to his first game record: 46 points of Gins’ 91 point loss against the heavy weight. Still a very good contribution but needs lots of support from his local counterparts.

Three days after his almost 50-point game performance, the Gin Kings finally nailed their first win of the conference against the lower ranked team, Coach Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Sorento, 105-98. Johnson improved his previous score with 47 and another almost 50-point game for the young shooting guard.

Johnson hit his lowest output of only 30 points and his team’s third loss against Marcus Douthit and Blackwater Elite, 83-77 yesterday, May 16 at Dipolog Sports Complex.

Was his 30 points bad? No, not at all. It was an excellent performance from Johnson. Ginebra locals just need to step-up and help their import in scoring to improve their record.

There is no doubt, this young man has all the tools and skills to take his team farther. He is really explosive. He can score anytime he wants in all sides of the floor. He can shoot from down town. He can slash and drive. He has hang time. He’s shifty. I can compare him to a healthy Derrick Rose in fact.

Many say he’s a ball hog that’s why he gets big points. Yes he is! Because that’s what he signed-up for. That’s what an import should do, to score, get rebounds, to score and to score. Ball hogging should not be an issue considering the conference is too short and in case of ties on the standings, there will be no playoffs, everything will be based on quotient system. The team who scored more advances.

Orlando Johnson is doing his very best to help his team out. What’s missing is support from the locals. Too bad that Ginebra is currently being plagued by injuries. They are just missing the services of their key players. Imagine if Ginebra has a healthy line-up. Their import will be totally fearless in taking shots, minding that his big men are all on standby for the boards and can give him ample space under the rim.

If Ginebra continue to lose, will they replace Johnson? I don’t see Coach Frankie replacing him. The conference is short and he can’t afford to lose a prolific import who has now adjusted well with his game plays and teammates.

What else can Coach Lim do to win? Push his locals. That’s it. If he can threat his players to get traded, the better. Just like what San Miguel Beermen Coach Leo Austria did to his team. Because of the trade threats to SMB players, they are now on the winning streak with 2-2 record. They just blew Globalport Batang Pier out, 124-102 as of press time. For SMB locals, they stepped-up. Marcio Lassiter who was rumored to be shipped to Gin Kings after Coach Austria’s trade threat scored 26 points along with AZ Reid’s 41 for the very convincing win.

Who knows? If Coach Lim trade-threats his players, they might improve their standings drastically.   - D' Waterboy, TheSummitExpress