AFTER an eight-year absence, Mark Barroca is thrilled to be given the chance to don the national colors anew as part of the 14-man pool for the sixth and final window of FIBA World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.
Barroca, who last represented the country as member of the original Gilas Pilipinas that finished fourth in the Fiba Asia Championship 2011 in Wuhan, China, vowed his full commitment ahead of two make-or-break away matches against Qatar on February 21 and Kazakhstan on February 25.
“Sobrang excited ako makapaglaro dito. Sabi ni coach kanina ‘yung commitment nga sobrang (importante). Kung meron pang two hundred percent na committed ako, so why not?” said the Magnolia Hotshots point guard, one of the 10 players that attended the first team practice on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
“Bibigay ko talaga ‘yung best ko, bibigay ko ‘yung time ko dito ngayon na makapaglaro ulit,” the Magnolia guard added. “Lahat ng players gusto mag-national team. So ito napili din ako so ibibigay ko ‘yung best ko, yung time ko, yung puso.”
The reigning PBA Governors’ Cup Finals MVP admitted that he didn’t expect the call-up from national coach Yeng Guiao.
“Di na rin ako nage-expect na makuha dito pero kinuha nila ako siyempre sobrang saya ko rin, sobrang tine-treasure ko yung pagkakuha nila dito sa akin,” the 32-year-old guard said.
The 5-foot-10 guard is also elated to play under Guiao for the first time and play with players who he usually only get to team up with under the All-Star set-up.
“Nakakasama ko lang ‘tong mga ‘to pag mga All-Star [game]. Kasi ‘yung All-Star iba naman ‘yun,” he said. “Ito national team kasi iba ‘yung labanan dito e, international, ‘yung pride ilalaban mo dito. Excited ako makalaro yung mga bagong teammates ko.”
Philippines is currently in a precarious situation in Group F with 5-5 win-loss record after losing three of its last four games, slipping to fourth behind Australia (9-1), Iran (7-3) and Japan (6-4).
But Barroca expects the team to go places, so long as it works hard.
“Siyempre maganda na ‘yung may pressure ding konti kasi professional naman tayo,” Barroca said. “‘Yung mga player walang room na mag-error. Kapag nandoon kami sa loob, lahat kami commit lang kami, may mangyayari namang maganda.”