A wide-eyed Mark Barroca got his first taste of gold when he was a rookie back in the 2012 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Back then, the then-B-Meg Llamados were led by grizzled veterans James Yap, Marc Pingris, and PJ Simon – all of whom were in the prime of their careers.
Though starstruck with his teammates, the native of Zamboanga City did not forget to soak up all the experience he could get from his teammates.
“Unang championship ko, rookie ako nun,” he recalled.
“Madami ako natutunan nun.”
Six years later, Barroca, now 32 years old, is the senior of the team. And he is making sure to pay it forward.
All throughout the season, Barroca was the extra voice of head coach Chito Victolero on the court, the teacher to the young guns, and the clutch scorer.
“Sabi nga ni coach sa akin, lagi kong kausapin si Jio [Jalalon], kasi isa na ako sa seniors eh. Yung role na yun, crucial na yun,” shared Barroca.
“Ganoon din sila James sa akin noong rookie ako eh. Sinasabihan din nila ako at tinatanggap ko yung role na yun.”
During the Finals, he made sure to not let this moment slip away. And he told his teammates a story about what his former head coach Tim Cone told them before embarking on their golden run from 2012-14.
“Yun ang sinasabi ni coach Tim sa amin, na it’s money time ‘pag nasa Finals na eh,” disclosed Barroca.
“‘Money on the table’, sinasabi niya sa amin na ganoon. Yung as a senior, na-experience ko yun, shineshare ko sa mga kasama.”
Besides helping end the Magnolia Hotshots’ four-year title drought, Barroca copped his second Finals Most Valuable Player crown with norms of 11.0 points, 3.2 boards, 3.2 dimes, and 1.8 steals.
According to him, it was unexpected.
“Nagulat din ako kasi marami ring magaling. Si Ian [Sangalang], Paul [Lee], nandiyan lagi, si Jio [Jalalon]. Wala na sa isip ko ang mag-MVP,” he expressed.
“Nasa isip ko lang manalo.”
With this, Barroca has come full circle. From a young upstart to a seasoned leader, he is now a six-time champion.
“Siguro kasi nung unang championship ko, ako yung rookie. Ngayon, ako ang senior na nandiyan para mag-lead sa mga bagong kasama namin,” said the six-time champion.
“Yun ang kaibahan.”
More importantly, he is now a full-fledged floor general.