Return to PBA finals reduces Mark Barroca to tears
MANILA, Philippines – The last time Mark Barroca made it into a PBA championship series, the Magnolia Hotshots were still called the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers.
So when the Hotshots finally punched a ticket to the 2018 Philippine Cup finals after repulsing the NLEX Road Warriors in 6 games of their best-of-7 semifinals series, Barroca couldn't help but turn emotional.
"Naiyak nga ako kanina e. Pagka-buzzer, hawak ko 'yung bola. Sobrang pasalamat ako nakabalik kami sa finals, almost 5 years na rin kaming hindi nakapasok. So masaya kami ngayon nakapasok kami," said Barroca.
(I cried a while ago. When the buzzer sounded, I was holding the ball. I'm really grateful since we got in the finals again, it's been almost 5 years since we made it there. So we're happy that we're playing in the finals again.)
Since winning a grand slam under Tim Cone's tutelage in the 2013-2014 season, Magnolia had been on a finals drought. Allthough the Hotshots were a consistent top 4 team last season, making the semifinals in all of the 3 conferences, they failed to get over the hump.
Barroca made sure that dry spell would end as he logged in a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebound,s and 5 assists in Magnolia's 96-89 Game 6 triumph over the Road Warriors Tuesday, March 20.
The 31-year-old also made a crucial play down the stretch. After stealing Kiefer Ravena's pass, Barroca raced the whole length of the floor and completed a 3-point play for a 94-89 Hotshots lead with 1:32 minutes left.
"Nandoon nga ang gutom kasi 'yung frustration nga na talo kami noong semis, 'di kami umaabot ng finals. Parang 'pag natatalo kami, nadidismaya kami. Ngayon nasa finals na kami," he said.
(The hunger was there because of the frustration of losing in the semis and not making it into the finals. Whenever we would lose, we get frustrated. But now, we are back in the finals.)
The Hotshots will face the reigning 3-time All-Filipino champions San Miguel Beermen in a best-of-7 finals series.
"'Di pa naman tapos ang misyon. Meron pa kaming lalaruin, 'yung San Miguel (Our mission is not yet complete. We still have one team to play, San Miguel)," Barroca said.
Game 1 is on Friday, March 23, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com