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YOUNG GUNS STEP UP

09:39 PM February 22, 2014

The absence of San Mig Coffee’s defensive anchor Marc Pingris for the last 17 minutes of Game 4 could have changed the landscape of the series in a big way for coach Tim Cone.

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But two young guns answered the call for a savior.

Third-year point guard Mark Barroca and rookie Ian Sangalang proved to be a lethal combo for San Mig, coming off the bench to finish what their starters did to escape with a 93-90 win and inch their team closer to the Philippine Cup championship.

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Barroca, a former FEU standout, fired 13 of his 17 points in the second half to go with his eight assists, while ex-NCAA MVP Sangalang, who came from San Sebastian, contributed 17 points, with a couple of timely baskets in the fourth, together with his eight rebounds.

“Nag-set na yung mga starters ng tone sa opensa namin kaya kami nila Justin (Melton), Alex (Mallari) at Ian (Sangalang) na nanggaling off the bench, kinakausap ko lang sila na dapat isustain namin yung tone na yun,” Barroca said. “Kailangan namin yun para fresh pa yung mga starters namin pagdating ng second half, kasi yun ang key dun eh. Ang Rain or Shine, nag-rorotate ng tao. Ang daming rotation players ni coach Yeng.”

Both of the players knew that they had to amp up their play now that they are at the bright lights of the Finals, but their sense of urgency got to a higher level when Pingris went down.

“Big challenge sa amin yun kasi si Kuya Ping wala. Super energetic nya tsaka nakikita mo naman kung gaano nagpapakamatay para sa bola yun,” Sangalang, the second pick of the recent draft. “Syempre, parang ako yung nag-replace sa kanya sa court kaya dapat gampanan ko yung role nya. Dapat lumaban ako, di ako pwedeng sumuko.”

“Sa kin, opportunity lang yung ibinigay sa amin,” Barroca said. “Sila James, napahinga so time na namin siguro para mag-step up.”

“Nung nawala si Ping, nawalan kami ng big impact. So ang ginawa ko para makakuha pa rin nung impact na naibibigay nya is dun sa depensa ko. Sa depensa ko kinuha yung lakas para mag-contribute sa team. Yung opensa, andun naman eh, so given na makakauha at makakakuha ka ng opportunity. Di ko rin naman hinahanap yung tira. Kumbaga, binibigyan ko rin ng kumpyansa yung mga kasama ko.”

With Pingris’ status still in limbo for their potential title-clincher on Sunday, the two guys bared that whatever the doctors say, they will just be ready, as both of them are expecting a tougher fight from the E-Painters.

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“Sabi ko, magkakaroon ako ng playing time, gagawin ko talaga yung best ko para mag-step up, at ginawa ko lang talaga yung best ko,” Sangalang said. “Lagi lang naman akong positive. Pag nabibigyan ako ng pagkakataon, gusto ko laging makatulong sa team, so binibigay ko yung best ko lagi. Di ako pwedeng lalambot-lambot dun kasi very physical yung kalaban kaya dapat lagi kang ready.”

Barroca added, “Andito na kami. Last time kaming nagharap sa Finals, behind kami sa kanila, so alam namin ang pakiramdam nila ngayon. Their backs are against the wall na, desperate na sila at gagawin na nila yung pwede nilang gawin. Wala nang bukas sa kanila.”

“Kaya kami, dapat higitan pa namin yung ibibigay nila para ma-close out na namin yung series na to. Yun ang dapat kunin namin, yung mentality namin para game-face pa rin kami this coming Game 5.” (RL)

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