Mark Barroca talks about Gilas call-up

SBP: Mark, eight years na since huli ka naglaro para sa bayan. Ano feeling mo na nakabalik ka this stage in your career?
Barroca: Naku! Sobrang excited. Hindi ko akalain na mangyayari pa ito. Excited din ako sa reunion namin ni Japeth (Aguilar) at Marcio (Lassiter) na nakasama ko sa dating Smart Gilas. Kahit naman wala na ako sa national team, pinanonood ko lahat ng laro nila. Ang saya nila, saya ko. Ang lungkot nila, lungkot ko rin. Happy lang ako na makakatulong tayo ulit.

SBP: Naglaro ka para sa Smart Gilas from 2008-11, tama? Under Rajko Toroman?
Barroca: Oo. Masaya yung time na yun. Enjoy din naglaro para kay Rajko. Marami ako natutunan. Yung mga teammates ko puro mga college player pa maliban kay CJ Gilas (the national team’s naturalized player at that time). Gumagawa pa lang kami ng pangalan namin sa college at sa national team. Masaya at mahirap yung panahon na yun kasi first time namin sa mataas na level na competition.

SBP: Noong time mo sa national team, ano ang kino-consider mo na best or most memorable tournament mo?
Barroca: Yun ang 2009 Fiba Asia Champions Cup sa Jakarta, Indonesia. Unang sabak namin as a team na magsasama until 2011. Grabe rin yung pinagdaanan ng team na yan. Puro pagsubok. Hindi man kami nag-champion, nakapagpakita kami ng kakayahan namin.

SBP NOTE: Smart Gilas finished with a 3-1 record in group play defeating
Sangmu of Korea, 90-76. Mahram of Iran featuring Sammad Nikkhah Bahrami as well as former NBA players Priest Lauderdale and Jackson Vroman sent the young Philippine team crashing down to Earth, 98-87, in the next game. The nationals picked themselves up after with a massive win over Al-Riyadi of Lebanon, 91-86, despite Giles playing hurt.

Playing all-Filipino, they squeaked past Al-Qadsia of Kuwait, 98-93.
In the quarterfinals, Al-Arabi of Kuwait sent Smart Gilas out of medal contention with a 76-71 win. The Philippines did finish 5 th place in the 10-team standings (with a repeat win over Sangmu).

Barroca was so impressive during this stint that several Middle Eastern squads – with Al-Riyadi the most interested – inquired about Barroca’s services for their domestic leagues.

SBP: Eight years na nakalipas. Ibang coach, mostly ibang players, at ibang sistema. Ano expectations mo sa pagkakataon na ito?
Barroca: Chance to learn from a new coach lalo na hindi pa ako nakakalaro for Coach Yeng (Guiao). Meron mga old teammates tulad ni Japeth (Aguilar) at Marcio (Lassiter) at mga bagong teammates, at makatulong para may chance sa Fiba World Cup.
Ibibigay ko yung best ko.