Joe Devance can do a lot of things on the basketball court and with the versatile guard/forward out with an injury, Barangay Ginebra is paying the price for his absence.
Somehow, the Gin Kings survived the loss of Devance in both of their do-or-die games against the Alaska Aces in the quarterfinals, but it hasn’t been the case in their semifinals duel with the Star Hotshots.
And after dropping the first two games of the series, the effects of not having Devance around have been amplified.
“There’s not a word we can put on his importance. He’s our glue guy,” said Ginebra guard Sol Mercado.
Devance, who hurt his foot in the third quarter of Ginebra’s victory over Alaska on Sunday, is averaging 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists prior to the injury this conference.
But there’s more to Devance than what his numbers show.
“Everybody knows that about Joe. He’s someone that does stuff that doesn’t show up on the stats sheet,” Mercado said. “He sets great screens, he gets us into our offense, he gets the high-low passes to Japeth.”
“Defensively, he’s our anchor. A lot of people don’t know that, but he’s always talking. So we’re missing him big time.”
Ginebra will have to make do minus Devance, who is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
The Gin Kings hope to avoid a 0-3 hole on Monday against the Hotshots, who have won eight games in a row dating back to the elimination round.
“It really doesn’t come down to Xs and Os anymore. It’s just a matter of who wants it more. We have to want it more next game. We have to get all the 50-50 balls, we have to play our best game.”