Joe Devance only had six points and six rebounds but his impact in Barangay Ginebra’s win over Star in Game 3 of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals goes beyond his numbers.
Devance returned after missing three games due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot and though, his injury is still very much bothering him, the pain didn’t keep him from showing up for the Gin Kings when he was needed most.
The 34-year-old Devance made his first appearance in the semis when he was inserted at the 4:36 mark of the first quarter. And 34 seconds later, Devance announced his return with a jumper that pushed the Gin Kings’ lead to 11, 15-4.
“I don’t know if I inspired them. I just think they just came out and played with a little bit more desperation and a little bit inspired basketball,” said Devance, who played for 18 minutes and 34 seconds but sat out the fourth quarter.
“My foot hurts. It’s in pain. It’s started to come back in the third quarter. In the fourth, it’s really painful. If coach was gonna call I was gonna try to suck it up so it’s a good thing he really didn’t need me because I think around the three-minute mark I told the trainer that my foot’s already hurting,” Devance recalled.
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone and the rest of the Gin Kings knew how vital Devance’s role was in the much-needed victory.
“It’s incredible. I don’t know very many players that would do that, but Joe takes pride in sacrificing for his teammates, sacrificing shots and playing through injury,” Cone said. “I thought his minutes out there were key. He gave us size and created more space. His basketball IQ is off the charts. We become a lot more intelligent team when he’s on the floor. He makes us smarter and better.”
“He’s a big factor because he does a lot of things. I’m not just talking about points, but also his presence inside the court. He’s different as a leader,” said point guard LA Tenorio.
But Devance doesn’t think he’s the reason why Ginebra won, but rather, it was a collective effort.
“I don’t think it’s because of me. It’s for the fans. We kinda realized that we’re playing for each other and you know when all that sinks in, it’s like we’re playing for more than just ourselves so that what kinda sank in today,” he said.
Devance said he’s going to play in Game 4 on Wednesday with Ginebra eyeing to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
“I’m gonna play for sure,” he said.
It started to wear off. If I didn’t get that shot I wont be able to play. The docotor said I should rest, but I could play if I could take the pain. How can I sit out right now? It’s hard to sit down in the sidelines and watch so I’m gonna do whatever I can to help.