Speak out: Barroca: the Flying B-A A +A
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I ADMIT I am quite the overprotective fan when it comes to comparisons involving Johnny Abarrientos; after all, the 1996 MVP was my first ever Philippine basketball idol. Every time someone tags a point guard of the new generation as the next Flying A, I get initially skeptic then afterwards I watch, scrutinize and breakdown that PG’s style of play eventually leading to my verdict which could be - maybe, not quite, not at all or hell no.
Yes, post-JA I have seen some great players at the one spot – Jimmy Alapag, Jayjay Helterbrand, Willie Miller, Mike Cortez, LA Tenorio, Alex Cabagnot, Denok Miranda, Jayvee Casio, Sol Mercado and Paul Lee to name a few – but their respective games lack an element or two for me to say that they can be the next Johnny A.
That is until the San Mig Coffee Mixers’ Mark Barroca.
People who have coined the nickname “The Flying B” for Barroca must have thought the same thing. The parallels are hard to ignore: both played for FEU in college and both were drafted and forst coached by the legendary Tim Cone.
Their most glaring similarities, though, can be dissected in the way they play: both are tenacious defenders altering shots, causing turnovers or earning the ire of the players they’re guarding while on the other end, both are unselfish making life easier for their teammates with a drive and dish and if the situation calls for it, both can also create opportunities for themselves with off the dribble shots and pull up jumpers, plus they are not afraid to take and make the winning plays.
Funny thing is, the Flying A, on the sidelines as one of the Mixers’ assistant coaches therefore, also a mentor, has been both a witness and a participant on the rise of his heir apparent.
In his prime, the 5’8” Abarrientos wasn’t afraid to conquer the land of the giants. At present, Barroca is the same.
Cone’s system which is centered on the triangle offense thrives on a capable court general. He had Johnny Abarrientos in Alaska before; it’s quite a luxury that he has the second coming, Mark Barroca in his team now.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2014.