MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia's Mark Barroca shrugged off his punching incident with Alaska's Chris Banchero, saying it happened in the heat of the moment of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals.
Barroca hit Banchero with a closed fist in the groin late in the Hotshots' 76-90 Game 4 loss on Wednesday, December 12, that evened the best-of-seven affair at 2-all.
While the two were waiting beyond the three-point line during a free throw play, the Magnolia guard evaded the referees' gaze and landed a low blow on the Alaska standout with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th.
Banchero immediately grimaced in pain on the floor but no calls were made despite replays revealing the cheap hit.
For Barroca, the incident was simply brought upon by the intense atmosphere.
"Mainit lang 'yung laban kanina," the seven-year veteran told reporters after being pressed about the matter. "Nanalo sila ngayon so bawi na lang kami next game."
(It was just a heated game. They won so we will just bounce back next game.)
The two, who have been in each other's faces since the championship round started, were called by league commissioner Willie Marcial right after the highly physical contest.
Barroca vowed to tone it down heading into Game 5 with his "friend."
"Pisikilan naman [pero] dapat hindi masyado. Kami ni Banchero, magkaibigan naman kami. Sabi lang ni Comm na 'wag daw masyado, 'di raw maganda na masyadong madiin."
(It was physical but we should mellow it down. Me and Banchero, we're friends. Comm just told us that it doesn't look good if we go at each other that hard.)
There seemed to be no bad blood between the two pesky guards as they approached each other midcourt as the final buzzer sounded.
"Kinongrats ko pa nga siya eh. Nice game. Ganoon talaga sa loob, mag-aaway pero sa labas, magkakaibigan kami," Barroca added.
(I congratulated him and I told him it was a nice game. That's just what it is. We may fight on the court but we're friends outside of it.)
The Hotshots and the Aces tangle in an all-important Game 5 on Friday, December 14, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.