Commish Cup unfolds February 10
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – After the deciding Game Seven between San Miguel Beer and Alaska Milk in the Philippine Cup Finals, the Philippine Basketball Association takes only a weeklong breather then unveils the Commissioner’s Cup, featuring titleholder TNT versus Blackwater in the opening game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 10. The opening twinbill will also showcase 2014 Commissioner’s Cup champs, the Star Hotshots versus the Meralco Bolts in the 7 p.m. mainer.

The Commissioner’s Office has released the schedule only for the first seven play dates of the mid-season tourney ruled last year by the TNT Tropang Texters on a conquest of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a well-fought titular series.

The Tropang Texters are bringing back champion import Ivan Johnson in their title-retention bid.

It will be Mahindra versus Globalport then Barangay Ginebra opposite NLEX on Feb. 12 also at the Big Dome. The next day, TNT and Meralco clash at 3 p.m. then Star and Rain or Shine collide at 5:15 p.m. in a Saturday bill at the Philsports Arena.

The first Sunday doubleheader features Ginebra versus Globalport and Mahindra against Blackwater back at the Big Dome on Valentine’s Day.

Phoenix Petroleum, the league’s newest franchise taking over the Barako Bull ball club, makes its PBA debut against NLEX on Feb. 17 also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Alaska Milk will have a 16-day rest after the Philippine Cup Finals, going up against Blackwater on Feb. 19. San Miguel returns to action the next day – against Mahindra.

Meanwhile, the TNT-Blackwater tuneup match at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center on the Ateneo campus was halted by a fight between the TNT import and Blackwater players JP Erram and Frank Golla.

“Ivan Johnson lost his cool as he was banged up by the Blackwater players. It was just a tuneup and they were so physical on Johnson. By the fourth quarter, he’s saying ‘this is too much,’” said TNT team manager Virgil Villavicencio.

“He did swing his elbow as he’s saying ‘don’t touch me,’” Villavicencio also said.

Blackwater, with import MJ Rhett, was leading by eight early in the fourth quarter when the commotion happened, causing the automatic stoppage of the match.

“The commissioner asked for a copy of the tape. He’ll take a look at it. Another problem was the PBA refs coming in late, taking over the officiating already in the second half. Our training refs officiated the game early on,” said Villavicencio.

A temperamental player, Johnson is banned from the Korean Basketball League.

And as an Atlanta Hawk in the NBA, Johnson drew fines on two separate incidents.

ACIRC ALASKA MILK ATLANTA HAWK BARAKO BULL BARANGAY GINEBRA BIG DOME FEB IVAN JOHNSON PHILIPPINE CUP FINALS SMART ARANETA COLISEUM TROPANG TEXTERS
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