Mark Barroca provided the spark and the rest of Magnolia followed, resulting in a 107-95 win over TNT Friday that extended their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After scoring just five points the last time out Barroca sizzled for 25 this time, 16 of those coming in the first half that set the tone for the Hotshots and gave them momentum to lead by as many as 16 points three times.
Barroca deflected some of the credit to his teammates. “Maging aggressive lang din ako, maging smart sa game, pero di lang naman ako,” he said.
“Kasi nga kailangan ko rin mga kasama ko. Dapat lahat kami aggressive dahil down kami, kailangan naming kumuha ng momentum start pa lang ng game.”
As expected, the Tropang Giga mounted a spirited fightback that pulled them within three going to the last four minutes of the game. But it was also Barroca’s near-triple that started Magnolia’s 10-5 windup that ultimately resulted a narrower 2-3 deficit in the best-of-seven duel.
TNT could still close out the series on Sunday, but the fact his team’s conference goes on was enough to please Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“Just credit to all the players. Backs against the wall, do-or-die, but our mental toughness nandoon,” said Victolero after citing his Hotshots’ defense, especially going into the last two minutes of the game.