ROOKIE guard Justin Melton is starting to earn raves in the PBA, but the high-leaping San Mig freshman was quick to deflect the credit to teammate Mark Barroca.
“Mark makes it (game) extremely easy to play two-guard because he’s a great creator for (our) other teammates,” said a beaming Melton, shortly after scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in the Mixers’ 85-83 Game One win over the Barangay Ginebra Kings on Tuesday.
"He just makes things easy and he makes my job so easy," the Angeles City-born Fil-Am guard added.
Melton and Barroca formed an undersized but quick backcourt for San Mig during a long stretch of the final period on Tuesday, something coach Tim Cone admitted was “uncharacteristic” of his coaching style.
After Melton was pulled back to the bench in favor of Peter June Simon, Barroca took over the show, scoring on a difficult turnaround jumper against LA Tenorio with 11 seconds to go which proved to be the marginal basket in the thrilling, back-and-forth game.
The 5-10 product of Mt. Olive College has actually stepped up big in San Mig’s last two playoff contests.
Melton shot a career-high 12 points - all on three-pointers - and grabbed four rebounds to help San Mig put an end to Talk ‘N Text’s three-year Philippine Cup reign, 90-82 during their knockout quarterfinal match on Sunday.
Two days later, Melton, who Cone described as the team’s “secret weapon," continued his stellar off-the-bench play, scoring key baskets when open while standing his ground defensively against Tenorio and Mark Caguioa.
“Wherever I am, I just try to contribute whether that’s the first quarter or fourth quarter. I try to contribute as much as I can,” said the 26-year-old selected 13th overall by San Mig in the last rookie draft.