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BACK-TO-BACK FOR BARROCA

03:40 PM January 27, 2014

Heroes abound in San Mig Super Coffee’s quarterfinal knockout game victory over Talk ‘N Text on Sunday.

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But no one stood taller in that win-or-go-home Game Three match than 5-10 playmaker Mark Barroca.

Barroca, a former Far Eastern University sentinel, pumped in eight of his team-high 18 points in the final period, pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, issued five assists and added two steals to lead the Mixers to a thrilling 90-82 win, ending the Tropang Texters’ three-year Philippine Cup title reign in the process.

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For his heroics, the 27-year-old pride of Zamboanga earned him his second straight Accel-PBA Press Corps. Player of the Week for the period of January 20-26, beating out the likes of Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio as well as Petron guard Alex Cabagnot for the weekly citation.

Barroca became the first player for the 39th season to win back-to-back Player of the Week honors.

The last player to win back-to-back Player of the Week was Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa who did the trick during the periods of November 5-11 and November 12-18 during last season’s Philippine Cup eliminations.

Though the game was marked by eight deadlocks and 17 lead changes, Barroca showed the maturity and leadership the Mixers sorely needed against the Tropang Texters, who simply refused to surrender their crown on a silver platter.

In fact, Barroca said they had to work for every possession, knowing that Talk ‘N Text had too much pride to yield the all-Filipino crown it has held for the last three seasons.

“Grabe nga ang banggaan, tinamaan na yung hita ko ni Danny (Seigle) pero tuloy lang ang laro para makatulong,” Barroca said after emerging from a highly-physical encounter that saw him face defenders like Ryan Reyes, Jimmy Alapag and Aaron Aban during the course of the game.

Even San Mig coach Tim Cone was proud of the way Barroca stepped up his game in the most crucial stage of the knockout game.

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“Mark played big down the stretch, I think in the last four or six minutes of the game. And really, our guys worked hard for it (win), real proud of our guys right now, going back from our 1-5 start and be at the top four is really great,” said Cone.

The win completes the semifinal cast as San Mig is set to face Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-seven series beginning Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. (RD)

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