Mark Barroca displayed poise under pressure as he willed Magnolia to a 105-97 victory over TNT in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinals series in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on Friday, Aug. 12, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Hotshots’ backs pushed against the wall, the veteran playmaker showed a sense of urgency right from the start of the game, dropping 16 of his 25 points in the first half which set the tone for the crucial victory that allowed Magnolia to live for another day and cut the series deficit, 3-2.
Barroca orchestrated a huge second quarter assault for Magnolia that built a 17-point lead, 51-36, towards the end of the first half. The Hotshots, however, still had to weather a huge TNT storm in the second half led by RR Pogoy, Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero, who was elated with for Magnolia’s defense, said that staying in front of TNT players without fouling keyed the crucial victory after holding TNT to a measly 20-percent clip from beyond the arc while also forcing 21 turnovers.
“We did a good job on defense sabi ko nga wala naman kaming babaguhin sa depensa namin because we’re here because of our defense. And we did a good job of sustaining that defense for 48 minutes,” said Victolero.
“We limit the fouls, we play physical but nasa game naman yung nilalaro namin. So credit to all the players, backs against the wall, do-or-die, but yung mental toughness nandoon. We expected a grinding game on both ends of the floor so credit to all of them,” he added.
It was a total team effort for the Hotshots as Paul Lee put up another stellar outing with 16 points. Calvin Abueva remained pesky on both ends of the floor with his own with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Ian Sangalang also produced 16 on top of his seven boards.
Jayson Castro led the Tropang Giga with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists while Troy Rosario added 17. The high-scoring duo of Williams and Pogoy was limited to just 13 points although the two briefly came alive in the third quarter to keep TNT within striking distance, 81-73, heading into the final frame
A strong 9-4 start in the final frame then allowed TNT to inch closer, 85-82, early on. Magnolia however showed better resolve in the ensuing plays as Sangalang, Lee and Barroca delivered the dagger baskets to keep Magnolia afloat despite repeated rallies from the Tropang Giga.
TNT will have another shot at dispatching Magnolia and book a spot to the PBA Finals in Game 6 on Sunday, still at the Big Dome.