FOR the second straight year Mark Barroca and the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok stood in the way of the San Miguel Beermen and the PBA Philippine Cup title.
And while in both instances the Beermen came out on top to claim the Philippine Basketball Association All-Filipino crown, Mr. Barroca is still proud of their effort especially since in the last one they fared better and nearly went all the way.
Losing, 72-71, in Game Seven of their Philippine Cup finals series on May 15, the Hotshots saw the Beemen get the better of them anew in the championship of the season-opening PBA tournament.
It was in follow-up to their defeat last year where Magnolia fell to San Miguel, 4-1.
While the outcome was the same, with the Beermen on top for their fifth straight Philippine Cup title, for Mr. Barroca it was far from being similar as they competed far better last time around as shown by how they made the champions sweat for seven games.
“We are still happy of the result because we showed that we are no longer the team that they can dominate and defeat by big margins. We stretched them to a Game Seven and in the end we had a shot at beating them,” said Mr. Barroca as he made his way out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum following Game Seven.
Mr. Barroca and the Hotshots had the inside track for much of the decider but just could not hold off the charge back of the Beermen in the end and did not get the breaks they wanted to en route to the narrow defeat.
The veteran guard and Gilas player went on to underscore that their good showing in the just-concluded tournament was a testament to the maturity of the team and how they are poised for bigger things ahead.
“It showed the maturity of the team now and how the team is ripe for bigger things,” said Mr. Barroca whose team is the reigning PBA Governors’ Cup.
He further said that San Miguel will continue to be a force in the PBA especially with Mr. Fajardo in tow and that he hopes they could find a player who can limit him to give themselves a better chance.
“We have to find a player who can stop June Mar. He’s has been great. Hopefully in the next conference we will have an import who can help us and be more successful against them,” Mr. Barroca said.
In the just-started PBA Commissioner’s Cup the Hotshots will have do-it-all import John Fields as reinforcement. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo