MARK Barroca is one superstitious player, especially early in his career.
So superstitious that he only used one shoe from his rookie year in the PBA up until he won a grand slam with San Mig Coffee in 2014.
During a PBA Kamustahan episode on Wednesday in the league’s official Facebook account, Barroca recalled using only one pair of sneakers, a Nike Hyperdunk, during his early days in the PBA in 2011 because he considered the pair a lucky charm.
“Nabubutas na sa sobrang gusto kong suotin,” said Barroca, who has kept these same Nike pair to this day. “Tinatali ko na lang kapag napuputol (sintas).”
Barroca said then San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone got mad at him for using the shoes time and again, warning him about the risk of getting injured.
“Pinapagalitan na nga ako ni Tim Cone dati. Bakit daw ayaw ko magpalit ng shoes. Putol na ‘yung sintas, tinatali ko na lang. Sabi ko lucky charm eh,” Barroca said.
Lucky or not, it worked.
Barroca won four straight championships while using the shoes. The Mixers ruled the 2013 Governors Cup then went on to win the three conferences of the 2013-14 season to bag the grand slam, the second for Cone in his coaching career and the first for the franchise.
Barroca now owns a wide collection of shoes accumulated in a pro career that now spans nine years. But it wasn’t always like that especially when he was young.
“’Yung panglaro namin noon, isang sapatos, isang tsinelas puwede na, di ba? Para makalaro lang,” said Barroca with a laugh.
Barroca has been sharing his old shoes to friends. He plans to take it to the next level by donating more shoes to his high school in his hometown of Zamboanga City.
“Siyempre hindi lang college, pati mga kaibigan ko na hindi maka-afford ng sapatos. Kasi ang mahal-mahal ng sapatos. Binibigay ko din," he said. "May plano nga ako ngayon. ‘Yung high school ko kung saan ako galing, magbibigay ako ng sapatos."
The plan, though, will have to wait.
"Ibe-bless ko lang sila," said Barroca. "Pero may ECQ pa."