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    'Surreal' pick-up games with Pacquiao part of perks as Finals MVP Barroca enjoys break

    Mar 8, 2014

    A THREE-DAY vacation in Singapore with his wife. Another swing to General Santos where he was flown to play ball with world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

    Mark Barroca feels truly blessed.

    The current toast of the PBA made the most of his short break after leading San Mig to the championship in the last PBA Philippine Cup, taking a quick trip to Singapore with wife Ruselle for some much-deserved rest and recreation.

    But the trip Barroca enjoyed the most was his day in the tuna capital of the world, where he was invited to play three pick-up games with boxing superstar Pacquiao, a known basketball nut.

    The Philippine Cup's Finals MVP said the feeling was surreal when he and his wife finally met the eight-division world champion, who even gave him and Ruselle a tour of his posh mansion in General Santos.

    “Nakakailang nung una,” said the former Far Eastern University stalwart. “Si Ruselle shocked nga eh. First time kasi namin na-meet at nakausap si Manny.”

    Barroca has truly come a long way, establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the pro league while overcoming insults from rival fans who continue to make his looks and marriage a butt of jokes in various internet fora, fan pages, and even in the popular PBA memes.

    Ruselle said he is proud to see his husband rise above the constant mocking and taunting thanks to the encouragement and support from family, close friends, and even in church (Victory U-Belt).

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    “We forgive these people (critics) who look down on us. That's part of Mark's job. May mga tao talaga na hindi ka magugustuhan,” Ruselle said as she watched her husband go up the stage along with the rest of the San Mig team during a victory party on Thursday night.

    “Mast tumibay ang faith namin kay God. Hindi kami bumitaw sa Kanya,” she said.

    Barroca has now won a title in each of his three seasons with the San Mig franchise, his finest performance coming in the last all-Filipino conference where he averaged 13.5 points. 3.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals a game on the way to winning the Finals MVP trophy.

    “Kaya nga I’m so happy and feeling blessed sa mga nangyayari kay Mark ngayon,” said Ruselle. “Despite his many critics, eto yung nagsilbing motivation namin to bring out the best in us.”

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