FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
MICO HALILI, GMA News November 26, 2011 1:44pm

Before B-MEG Head Coach Tim Cone officially started practice, Assistant Coach Johnny Abarrientos and point guard Mark Barroca were already in deep training. Johnny talked. Mark listened. Lesson number 76: How to steal the ball from a big man.

"Coach papano ang pag-timing ng sundot," Mark asked Johnny. "Papano ba ang timing 'pag gusto mo to smother a big man na hindi ka makikita?"

"Magandang tanong yan," Coach Johnny replied. "Pagtalikod ng big man, huwag mo na hantayin na makita ka niya. Timing. Timing. Dedma. Dedma. Tapos non-stop kulitin mo yung big man."

Each time Johnny teaches, he talks fast, his eyes widen, his heart pounds. He knows the subject matter better than anyone else. Flying A 101: How to play like Johnny Abarrientos by Johnny Abarrientos.

Naturally, Barroca takes advantage. He asks constantly. Not just as a rookie PBA point guard. But as Flying A 101 honor student.

"Siya naman nauna dito sa Triangle ni Coach Tim," Mark admits. "So yung mga ginagawa niya dati, gusto ko matutunan. Bawa't detalye na alam niya, inaalam ko."

"Actually happy ako sa development ni Mark," Coach Johnny says. "Kasi kahit ang hirap gawin ng moves na tinuturo ko sa kanya, he's trying his best na matutunan niya."

When B-MEG faced Rain or Shine last November 25, we marveled at Barroca's Gilas-sharpened, Johnny A-enhanced game too. Even against Rain or Shine's rugged defenders, even against fellow-rookie Paul Lee, even during a nerve-wracking fourth quarter, even when shifting at full speed, Barroca played it cool, finishing with 14 impact points, the way Johnny A always did.

Maybe each time Barroca has the ball in his hands, he has Abarrientos in his head with Coach Johnny's constant reminders, "Maging patient ka lang. Gawin mo lang role mo. Kasi ma-o-open ka talaga."

So is Mark the next Johnny?

"Hindi naman," Mark says, like it's embarrassing to discuss, or obnoxious to admit that people say so, or it's sacrilege to be compared to the great Johnny A. "Ang galing galing ni Coach Johnny eh!"

But I insist that people say it and eventually Mark relents, "Meron ako naririnig-rinig lang."

B-MEG is on a five-game winning streak. Barroca is on a hot streak as well: 17 ppg in the last three games. The team has a long way to go before it can truly bear Cone's championship signature. Barroca has a long way to go before the Flying B truly comes close to The Flying A. The team and its rookie point guard are already good, but still not great.

Lesson #76 was over. There was still time for a quick one-on-one game between Johnny A and Mark B. Johnny displayed his head and shoulder fake. "Ang bilis pa din ng paa," Mark exclaimed. Speed fades. Bodies age. Yet an honor student learned; basketball legends last forever. "O kunin mo na ulit yung (jersey) number 14," Mark tells Johnny. "Balik na ako sa 4." — GMA News

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