MARK Barroca was among the first to welcome Chris Banchero once the latter came on board for Magnolia.
"At least kasama ko na siya. Hindi na niya ako papahirapan sa depensa,” Barroca said.
Banchero did give Barroca a hard time while he was still with Alaska and even got under the skin of the veteran Magnolia guard, who retaliated by hitting him in the groin area during the dying minutes of Game 4 of last year’s PBA Governors Cup Finals.
Barroca was fined P50,000 for the act but escaped suspension.
Barroca said he and Banchero have yet to discuss the incident since the Fil-Italian guard arrived in a trade from Alaska for Rodney Brondial and Rob Herndon, but he was sure everything is now water under the bridge.
“Tapos na yun. Nangyari na yun,” Barroca said. “Pero wala na yun. Kami naman ni Chris ay magkaibigan naman kasi yung sa (Smart) Gilas 1 dati sa training camp namin sa Las Vegas kasama namin siya."
On the incident, Barroca said, “Finals yun kaya siguro nangyari yung mga bagay na yun. Heat of the moment ba, pero wala na yun.”
Barroca pointed out the value Banchero brings to Magnolia, never mind the obvious surplus of guards in the Hotshots’ rotation that also included Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, Justin Melton, and Alvin Abundo.
He said Banchero offers a pair of fresh legs to a Magnolia backcourt which loves to press and hustle against opposing teams.
“Going to the playoffs, babalik yung laro namin na fresh kaming lahat. Tsaka yung (playing) time namin mahahati. Hindi na kami yung solid na 35 minutes, 38 minutes na maglalaro,” said Barroca.
Magnolia’s longest tenured guard already felt the effect on Wednesday night in the team’s 97-81 win over Phoenix.
No one among Magnolia’s playmakers played more than 30 minutes, with Barroca having the longest playing time at 28 minutes.
“Parang hindi nga kami pagod ngayon,” said Barroca after he finished with seven points and three assists in the Hotshots’ fifth win in nine outings. “Ngayon parang fresh. Parang hindi ako napagod. Hindi katulad nung last game, pag-uwi namin, pagod na pagod ka.”
“Balance yung minuto namin. Kaya all-out kami kapag nandun kami sa loob, so yung depensa namin name-maintain,” he said. “Struggle lang sa opensa, pero at least sa depensa may positive na nangyayari sa amin.”
Magnolia will need that deep backcourt when it takes on co-leaders NLEX and TnT Katropa for its final two assignments in the eliminations, he said.
“Bale anim kaming guard na nagro-rotate, so balance talaga 'yung first and second group na ipapasok ni coach (Chito Victolero). At least yung pace na gusto ni coach mami-maintain namin,” he said.