ANTIPOLO - Mark Barroca feels like his career has gone full circle.
From a wide-eyed rookie playing behind fancied teammates James Yap and Peter June Simon back in his first championship in 2012, it was Barroca's turn to play mentor in Magnolia's run to the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup title.
"Nung unang championship ko, ako yung rookie. Ngayon, ako na ang senior na nandyan para mag-lead sa mga bagong kasama namin," said the former Far Eastern University guard after the title-clinching 102-86 win over Alaska in Game Six.
At 32, Barroca is still at the peak of his powers. But he knows Father Time will eventually catch up on him and he wants to pay it forward to the next generation, the same way Yap and Simon did when he was still a greenhorn.
"Sabi nga ni coach Chito (Victolero) sa akin, lagi kong kausapin si Jio kasi isa na ako sa seniors eh," said Barroca, referring to teammate Jio Jalalon. "Yung role na yun, ganoon din sila James sa akin noong rookie ako."
"Sinasabihan din nila ako at tinatanggap ko 'yung role na yun. Si Jio, ganoon din. Kami nila Paul (Lee), naguusap kami kung ano ang pwede naming gawin kaya naging maganda na ang chemistry namin," he said.
That sacrifice, in Barroca's mind, was exactly the reason why the Hotshots finally succeeded in ending a four-year title drought.
Barroca averaged 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals in the finals. That led to him being hailed as the Honda PBA Press Corps Finals MVP.
"Marami ring magaling sa amin like si Ian (Sangalang), si Paul, at nandyan lagi si Jio. Lahat sa amin pwede maging Finals MVP. Nasa isip ko lang manalo," he said.
With Magnolia finally ending the dry spell, Barroca is hopeful the storied Purefoods franchise can regain its place among the league's preeminent squads alongside sister teams San Miguel and Ginebra.
"Ngayon na nanalo kami, bumalik yung puso dahil nandoon ka na sa taas eh, kailangang i-maintain mo lang going to the next conference," he said, quick to turn his attention to the upcoming 2019 PBA Philippine Cup. "Sa all-Filipino, nag-finals kami doon at sana makabalik kami."
"Pero rest muna, yet stay hungry and stay humble. Wala pa, isa pa lang ito eh. Ano ba naman yung sa San Miguel at Ginebra na nandyan sila lagi sa taas? Hopefully kami rin, nandoon din kami."