MANILA, Philippines – Joe Devance wasn’t just about to sit on the sidelines and witness his Barangay Ginebra’s campaign for a third straight PBA Governors’ Cup title get crushed by Magnolia.
The do-it-all forward shrugged off a stress fracture on his left foot to help the Gin Kings stay alive in the best-of-five semifinals series with a 107-103 win in Game 3 on Wednesday, November 14.
Benched in the first two semis games due to the injury, Devance made up for lost time by delivering 8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals and recording the highest plus-minus of +15.
“Since Game 1, I felt really bad that I was sitting out. I actually told coach Tim (Cone) that I wanted to play last game but him being concerned about my health, he decided to sit me out last game just to be safe,” Devance said.
“I told myself, I’m not going to get myself an excuse, can’t sit out right now.”
“I’ve been doing whatever I can just to get myself in the best shape that I could. It’s all or nothing now from this point on. I don’t care about my foot right now.”
With the 36-year-old veteran returning to the fold, Ginebra stormed back from an 18-point lead and fended off a comeback scare from Magnolia in the 4th quarter.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by Cone, who bared that Devance should still recuperate for an extra two weeks before returning to the hardcourt.
“If we were up two games to zero, there’s no way Joe Devance would be playing. The only reason he’s playing is we went down 2-0 and it’s the playoffs,” Cone said.
“He (Devance) just did a lot of the little things, made some nice passes, help us handle the ball and play defense on the import. And that’s basically what we needed and helped us get over the hump.”
As the Gin Kings seek to force a rubber match when they face the Hotshots in Game 4 on Friday, November 16, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, expect Devance to endure the pain again.
“I’m not going to sit out on this one. I’m definitely gonna play. We got this, we got this,” Devance added. – Rappler.com