IT looked like he caught Manny Pacquiao’s trademark left straight even though the boxing icon cum Mahindra playing coach couldn’t make it to this game.
Yet Mark Barroca didn’t mind, as Star emerged victorious in its do-or-die game against Mahindra, 86-73, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday.
The Hotshots star point guard suffered a gruesome cut on his right eyebrow and a smaller one below his eye on a hit from Karl Dehesa early on, forcing him to play practically with one eye the rest of the game.
“Parang lumaban ako at nasuntok ni Manny yung mata ko,” Barroca said with a smile, referring to Pacquiao, who was still on his way back to the country after a rousing win over Tim Bradley over the weekend in Las Vegas.
the cut took five stitches to close, but that didn't stop Barroca from returning and providing the leadership as the Hotshots grabbed the last postseason berth.
“Dati rin naka-experience na ako ng ganito, kay (Elijah) Millsap na sa bibig naman at natanggal ang ngipin ko,” the 5-foot-10 playmaker recounted. “Gusto kong makabalik kasi yung responsibility ko sa team, malaki. ‘Di man maka-shoot, pero yung leadership ko and to create offense para sa mga kasama ko.”
“Happy ako kasi at least nanalo kami,” he added. “Ganito man yung nangyari, nanalo naman kami so masaya pa rin.”
Hotshots coach Jason Webb admitted he would’ve forced Barroca to play through the injury given the circumstances.
“Even if he said no, I would beg him to play,” Webb said. “But Mark is not gonna say no anyway. The first time I looked at him, ang tanong ko sa kanya, ‘Sigurado ka ba? You can be honest with me.’ I wasn't sure kung kaya niya, because his eye is shut, sarado, and he still played well.”
“Grabe 'yung puso nung mga bata,” he added.
Barroca really wanted to play on given the Hotshots’ backcourt woes.
“Nahihilo pa ako, pero kailangan ko maglaro kasi kulang kami,” he admitted. "Wala si James (Yap), Alex (Mallari), may injury sila Ronald (Pascual).”
“Sabi ko talaga kay coach, gusto kong pumasok kasi wala namang namamatay sa ganyan,” he added. “Laro lang yan.”