MARK Barroca was reduced to tears after Magnolia finally sealed a return to the PBA Finals by thwarting NLEX, 96-89, in Game Six of their Philippine Cup semifinal playoff on Tuesday night.
Barroca turned emotional as he hugged the ball shortly after the final buzzer sounded, savoring the Hotshots' return to the finals after a four-year wait.
“Naiyak nga ako kanina e. Sobrang pasalamat ako nakabalik kami sa finals, almost five years narin kaming hindi nakapasok,” said Barroca, who was part of the San Mig side which won the last four straight titles under Tim Cone in the 2014 Governor’s Cup.
“Sana, hindi lang itong finals lang, di pa naman tapos ang mission. Meron pa kaming lalaruin, yung San Miguel,” he added.
Barroca was impressive in the close-out game as he put together a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists while making life hard for prolific NLEX rookie Kiefer Ravena.
For him, the frustration of being denied thrice at the semifinal stage last season turned into a burning motivation.
“Nandoon nga ang gutom kasi yung frustration nga na talo kami nung semis. Di kami umaabot ng finals. Parang pag natatalo kami, nadidismaya kami,” the former Far Eastern University guard said.
“Ngayon nasa finals na kami. Di lang naman 'yung goal dito e. Pang apat na semis namin nakapasok na rin, so over the hump nga so ngayon, bigay namin best namin ng Finals.”
Like his coach Chito Victolero, Barroca feels that this series was the perfect preparation for a finals date with the mighty San Miguel Beermen set to start on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Sobrang thankful kami nanalo kami ngayon kasi ayaw na namin maglaro ng Game Seven. Credit to NLEX, grabe pinakita sa amin. Kahit kulang tao nila, wala si Kevin (Alas), thrown out si JR (Quinahan) ng early pero lumalaban pa rin sila.
"Kita mo talaga puso nila. Siguro next conference, sobrang grabe na nila,” he added.