MANILA, Philippines – Mark Barroca knows too well how strenuous it is to close out a playoff series, so there won't be much celebration even after Magnolia moved on the cusp of a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup finals.
Barroca and the Hotshots remain on their toes as they look to finish off Rain or Shine the next time they meet following a hard-fought 82-74 Game 5 victory on Wednesday, April 24.
The Elasto Painters were heavily favored in the best-of-seven affair after they took home the first two games before Magnolia found its footing to win the next 3 outings and grab a 3-2 series lead.
Momentum is obviously on the Hotshots' side now, but they not are popping the champagne just yet.
"Ngayon na nanalo kami, wala pa kailangan i-celebrate kasi marami na naging 3-2 tapos natalo. Ayaw namin mangyari sa amin 'yun," Barroca said.
(Now that we've won, there's nothing to celebrate yet because there had been a lot of teams who went up 3-2 and still lost. We don't want that to happen to us.)
"[P]inakamahirap sa series 'yung pang-close na eh. Parang back against the wall na 'yung kalaban so kami ganoon din mentality namin."
(The hardest thing to do in a series is to close it out. Our opponents have their backs against the wall so we will employ they same mentality.)
What Magnolia will be banking on in the crucial Game 6 is its unpredictability.
Rain or Shine managed to put the shackles on stars Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang but the rest of the Hotshots came through to clinch Game 5.
"Itong team namin na ito, 'di mo alam kung sino puputok eh," said Barroca, who put up all-around numbers of 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
(In our team, you won't know who will explode.)
"[M]aganda sa team namin parang 'di mo masasabi kung sino ii-score."
(That's what makes this team good, you can't tell who will score.)
The Hotshots and the Elasto Painters have a day to go back to the drawing board before locking horns in Game 6 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Friday, April 26. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.