Barroca sees need for Magnolia to set grind-out, defensive battle to extend finals vs SMB
Mark Barroca has been the most consistent player for Magnolia on both ends of the floor in the finals against SMB. Jerome Ascano

MAGNOLIA’S most consistent player in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals is hoping his team would also show consistency as a unit for them to stay alive against San Miguel Beer in the series.

Mark Barroca stressed the Hotshots need to keep dictating the pace and holding the score low against the Beermen in Game Five on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena for them to extend the best-of-seven series to another game.

The Hotshots played their brand of ball in Game Four where they engaged the Beermen in a grind-out, defensive battle before folding down the stretch to absorb an 84-80 loss to move on the brink of elimination with a 1-3 deficit.

But as long as the Hotshots keep the tempo to their liking, Barroca feels the Hotshots have a chance to pull off another upset against the powerhouse Beermen.

“Iyon ang hinahanap sa amin ni coach, kasi yun talaga yung laro namin: more on defense, hindi sa scoring,” Barroca said. “Kasi yung first three games naming, sobrang taas ng score, ang hirap ng ganung laro kasi laro nila iyon eh. (Sa Game Four), dikitan talaga first to fourth, hindi sila lumamang ng malaki.”

“Nasa kamay pa naman namin yung championship eh, so 50-50, every game,” he insisted.

The Hotshots won the series opener, but allowed the Beermen to score 103 points, before letting the defending champions score 92 and 111 points, respectively, in their first two wins of the series.

Barroca, who turns 32 on April 25, has been flashing his vintage form this series, averaging 17 points, 3.3 triples, six boards, three assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 block in 32.5 minutes in four games.  

The five-time champion and former Finals MVP registered 14 points, built around four triples, nine boards, three steals, two assists, and one block in 39 minutes in Game Four.

Barroca, however, committed five turnovers – the last one in their last possession where fumbled possession of the leather that Arwind Santos picked up to draw a foul, sealing the Hotshots’ downfall.

But Barroca was quick to move on and shift his focus into the do-or-die Game Five that tips off at 7 p.m.

“Sabi nga ni coach, kung magdu-dwell ka, magmumukmok ka. Wag nalang kaming pumunta sa Friday, ibigay nalang namin sa kanila,” the Far Eastern University product said. “Pero nasa kamay pa rin namin eh, trabaho pa rin, bahala na kung anong mangyari. Basta yung best pa rin namin. Masaya kami kasi lumabas na yung laro namin. Kaya naman kapag ganitong laro.

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Gusto namin makabulag lang, habaan yung series,” he added. “Hindi natin alam baka mag-Game Seven pa. Well, one game at a time lang.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos