MARK Barroca won his scoring duel with Alex Cabagnot down the stretch as he rallied Purefoods back from 18 points down against Globalport, 81-75, for the Hotshots’ first win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Barroca spearheaded a late 12-0 run by the reigning champions that turned around a game where the Hotshots still trailed by seven points going into the final two minutes.
The playmaker from Far Eastern University then scored four more from the free throw area, including the game-clincher, 79-75, with 10 seconds to go that allowed the Hotshots to finally barge into the win column after losing their first two games of the season.
“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I forgot that we won, honestly,” said coach Tim Cone, apologetic to members of the press for arriving late for the post-game interview as he thought the Hotshots lost this one.
And Cone has a lot to thank Barroca, who tallied a game-high 25 points, including 22 in the second half, to steal the thunder away from Cabagnot, who scored 12 straight points in a four minute stretch that gave the Batang Pier a 70-63 lead with 3:44 left in the game.
“Mark gave us a spark especially with James (Yap) and Ian (Sangalang) on the injury list. But injury is not an excuse for us,” said Cone.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Batang Pier, now tied with the Hotshots at 1-2, as they suffered yet another meltdown after failing to protect what appeared to be a commanding lead.
Globalport led 42-24 early in the third period, but saw it vanished in thin air just before the quarter was over as Barroca, Allein Maliksi, and Peter June Simon spearheaded a spirited Purefoods comeback to cut the deficit to within 53-51.
The Hotshots eventually took the lead, 61-60, on a basket by the comebacking Marc Pingris, before Cabagnot suddenly found his range and took over for the Batang Pier by scoring the team’s next 12 points.
Cabagnot’s explosion gave Globalport a seven-point lead as the Batang Pier appeared ready to pounce on the opportunity and go for the kill against the Hotshots.
Good thing, Barroca took over and saved the day for the defending champions.
PUREFOODS (81) -- Barroca 25, Maliksi 20, Simon 12, Devance 10, Pingris 9, Taha 3, Melton 2, Reavis 0, Holstein 0, Mallari 0, Gaco 0, Allado 0, Matias 0.
GLOBALPORT (75) -- Pringle 20, Isip 17, Cabagnot 12, Jensen 7, Romeo 5, Nabong 5, Buenafe 3, Taha 2, Ponferada 2, De Ocampo 2, Semerad 0, Duncil 0, Baclao 0.
Quarterscores: 15-26; 24-50; 51-53; 81-75.