MAKING A DIFFERENCE
PUREFOODS Star’s resurgence in the Commissioner’s Cup has a lot to do with import Denzel Bowles’ outstanding plays.
However, one can’t overlook the fact that underrated players like Joe Devance and playmaker Mark Barroca are making a difference too, particularly during the playoffs.
The 6-foot-7 Devance may not be athletic or as quick as other wingmen, but his veteran smarts and deep understanding of the triangle offense has made him a valuable asset for the Hotshots, who are looking to retain their Commissioner’s Cup title.
The left-handed Devance averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in Purefoods Star’s two-game sweep of Alaska in their best-of-three quarterfinal series to help the Hotshots reach the Final Four.
The 2008 top rookie pick by Welcoat (now Rain or Shine) played a big role in Purefoods Star’s 120-86 whipping of Alaska in the series-opener, putting up near triple-double numbers of 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
The 32-year-old Devance sustained his fiery form from there, firing 16 points, grabbing four rebounds, issuing three assists and adding two blocks to help the Hotshots to a 96-89 win in Game Two and complete the clean sweep of the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re mentally prepared and mentally focused (this conference). We haven’t been a no. 3 seed or the top team (in the playoffs) in a long time, so that shows you we’re pretty focused right now,” said Devance, a standout from the University of Texas, El Paso.
On the other hand, Barroca’s contributions to Purefoods Star was equally important due to his ability to score in bunches, while being noted for his tireless effort on the defensive end.
The 5-foot-10 Barroca, the 2014 Philippine Cup Finals MVP, averaged 14 points, four rebounds and three assists against the Aces, providing the backcourt stability for a Hotshots side, that has dominated the league last season after scoring the franchise’s very first grand slam title.
Devance’s and Barroca’s solid plays in the series earned them the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period of March 23-29.
Purefoods Star hopes to ride on the momentum of its outstanding quarterfinal showing on Wednesday when it plays arch nemesis Talk ‘N Text in a best-of-five semifinal series. (RD)
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