Devance: I do whatever it takes; they know that.
Mark Caguioa yesterday posted an Instagram photo showing teammate Joe Devance, lying in a training table while awaiting for a doctor to inject his injured left foot with a large needle that will certainly make kids and adults alike cringe.
It has been a difficult period for Devance, who sustained a plantar fasciitis on his foot during a quarterfinals game against the Alaska Aces earlier this month. His longtime coach Tim Cone has been concerned with the regular shots, saying that it may do more harm than good in the long term.
But Devance seems like he’s tough as nails. And for the first time since the injury, the former No. 1 draft pick logged heavy minutes while providing a big role in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s close call against the San Miguel Beermen in Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals last Sunday located located miles away from the metropolis.
Ginebra won in overtime, 124-118, at the jampacked Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, tying the series at 1-1.
But it would have a commanding 2-0 lead for San Miguel had not for Devance, who rescued his team from an incredible meltdown in the final play of regulation.
Devance forced a five-minute overtime period with a buzzer-beating putback, then made all of his two blocks in the extension that prevented San Miguel from completing its 26-point comeback.
“I’m fine. I’m perfect,” Devance said after also having 16 points and seven rebounds in nearly 33 minutes of action.
“I do whatever it takes, everybody knows that.”
“Joe was amazing,” said Cone. “He had to play, he got a shot. We drove the doctor up in a private car to give shots to Joe so he can play and do it again at halftime.
“He’s going through the same procedure that helped him play heavy minutes all the way to overtime. He was huge, those minutes that Joe, and just the resilience… everybody staying together and battling through,” he added.
While Scottie Thompson dazzled the audience with his 18-point, 18-rebound, eight-assist numbers in a performance that proves why his becoming one of the best in the league, it was Devance who did the yeoman’s job.
He quietly did parts of the job that frustrated the foul-ridden June Mar Fajardo to just 10 points and seven rebounds even as Ginebra enjoyed a commanding 26-point lead in the second quarter. But that nearly came to naught after San Miguel, with its incredible outside shooting, came roaring back to take the lead on a Gabby Espinas triple that made it 109-108 – later stretched to 110-108 on a split by Ronald Tubid from the foul line with 3.2 seconds left in the fourth.
On the next play, Devance drove against Arwind Santos and double-pumped his shot which sailed nowhere. Beermen guard Chris Ross then celebrated on what he thought was a successful defensive stop and a win for his team, but failed to notice that Devance was able to convert a second try just in the nick of time, sending Ginebra fans in a frenzy.
“The play was for LA (Tenorio) to come over me and get a player screen then I kick it out. If he’s not open, then take the shot,” Devance recalled. “But with three seconds left, I told myself I’m just gonna catch it and take it myself and do something, shoot it.
“I saw Arwind was kinda up on me, I got him side by side to up a tough shot, I’m lucky enough to get my own rebound and tip it in.”
Devance also made a game-turning play in the overtime period, when his block on Chris Ross on the fastbreak and a tie game at 118-all, set up two go-ahead free throws by Japeth Aguilar, and a Thompson blow-by over Santos that virtually gave Ginebra the hard-fought victory.
With the series now a best-of-five, his Ginebra teammates are more than determined to give Devance a championship that will make the pain seem worth it.
“This is why we cant give up. This team will teach u to be humble,” Caguioa said on his aforementioned Instagram post.w