Mark Barroca believes Ginebra bigs - more than Thompson - a cause for Star concern
“Sa mga guards, kaya naman siguro namin i-guard. Yung mga bigs lang kasi yung worried talaga kami,” says Star point guard Mark Barroca. Jerome Ascano

MARK Barroca stressed Barangay Ginebra’s big men – more than the Gin Kings’ backcourt, particularly Scottie Thompson – should still be the focal point of Star’s defense when the two popular teams face off in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Christmas Day.

While acknowledging the depth and improvement of the Gin Kings when the rookie standout Thompson came in, Barroca believes Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar remain Ginebra’s most important weapons against the Hotshots.

“Magaling (si Thompson). Naging deep yung bench nila dahil kay Scottie,” Barroca admitted after practice on Monday. “Pero mas aware kami kay Greg, sa big men nila. Yun yung parang heart and soul nila, yung high-low (play) ng twin towers nila. Makita mo naman yung numbers nila, sobrang dominating sila.”

[See Webb says Star focused on survival - not on ex-coach Cone - in playoff vs Ginebra]

Barroca, who leads the team in steals with 1.3 a game, is confident he and the rest of the Hotshots’ guards can stay in front of their Ginebra counterparts in Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Thompson.

“Sa mga guards, kaya naman siguro namin i-guard. Yung mga bigs lang kasi yung worried talaga kami,” Barroca said, referring to 6-11 Slaughter and 6-foot-9 Aguilar, who combine for 23.1 rebounds per game. “Pinaka-bottom kami na rebounding team.”

The Hotshots turned back the Gin Kings, 86-78, in their elimination-round meeting, but Ginebra didn’t have versatile forward Jervy Cruz yet.

[See Cone casts emotions aside as he prepares to meet former team Star in playoffs]

“They got bigger,” Hotshots coach Jason Webb said. “How do we match up with their size? We have had trouble in some games in terms of rebounding. When we’ve lost, we really got killed in rebounding.”

“That’s really going to be our main concern,” he added. “We hope that we’re able to compete in that department.”

The return of 6-foot-8 Rafi Reavis, at least, gave the Hotshots a boost.

“Nakatulong si Rafi, but it’s going to be a total team effort,” Webb said. “Mas maliit kami, so we just have to help each other out.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos