SLOWLY getting back his rhythm and timing, the real Mark Barroca finally showed up on Sunday night.
Pesky on defense and deadly on offense, the point guard out of Far Eastern University presided over a furious endgame run by the Hotshots in a 104-96 victory over a hardfighting Mahindra side to remain in the running for a quarterfinals berth in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup.
Barroca teamed up with backcourt partner Alex Mallari in the win that saw him register his best game in the conference, finishing with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting including 18 in the second half.
As the Hotshots struggle adapting to the new system of coach Jason Webb, so did Barroca, who admitted having a hard time making the transition to the run-and-gun system from the old triangle offense of former mentor Tim Cone.
“Nahirapan talaga ako sa adjustment. Imagine, nung college ako and time sa Gilas puro takbuhan yun. And then pagdating sa PBA, naging triangle under coach Tim. Ngayon, run-and-gun uli under Coach Jason. Kaya yung timing mo and rhythm, hindi mo naman makukuha yan basta-basta,” said Barroca on Monday when the Hotshots were given the dayoff.
“Pero unti-unti, nakakapa ko na uli 'yung laro ko.”
That was none more obvious than in the Hotshots’ game against the Enforcers where Barroca went 4-of-5 from three-point range , while adding five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
As per instruction of Webb, Barroca put effort on defense, an area where the Hotshots admittedly are a little bit lacking.
“Sabi ni coach mag-concentrate lang ako sa defense, dahil yung opensa darating na lang 'yan,” said the four-year veteran guard.
Barroca’s major defensive play of the game came in the final 1:46 mark when he pressed and stole the ball from Paolo Hubalde, paving the way for an easy bucket by Mallari to give the Hotshots a 97-94 cushion they never relinquished.
“Basta hustle lang daw ako lagi sabi ni coach kasi yung naman talaga ang laro ko,” he said. “Kung makatulong sa opensa mas maganda. Kagabi nga hindi ko alam na ganun na ang score ko.”
It took Barroca a while to get comfortable playing the Cone triangle which netted him and the Hotshots five championships, including a grand slam in 2014.
Now as he settles down in Webb’s run-and-gun pattern, Barroca hopes the same result awaits Star in the near future.
“Sana nga, sana nga,” Barroca said.