Devance's huge risk pays off as Ginebra finally beats Star in semis

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--In what could be a make or break move in his career, Joe Devance decided to play through plantar fascitis in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series between Ginebra and Star.

With the Barangay needing some offensive firepower, Coach Tim Cone decided to send the six-foot-seven lefty forward with 4:36 left in the first quarter.

"I told Coach [Tim], 'If you need me, I'm ready.' I reassured him, 'I'm good. Let's do this,'" Devance told some reporters after the game how he convinced Cone to insert him to the game. 

He quickly made his presence felt with a two-pointer in Ginebra's next play and even pulled the rebound off a Jio Jalalon miss in the next play.

However, the lingering pain is still there, and Devance had to sit out the fourth quarter. He even came out of the Ginebra dugout limping.

"At around the three-minute mark [of the third quarter], I told the trainers, 'Oh man! My foot is already hurting....' I would say the first two quarters and maybe all the way until midway through the third quarter, it was good. But right when the pain reliever began to wear off, I couldn't anymore put a pressure on my foot," he bared how he felt during the game.

While he was dearly missed in the payoff period for his leadership, his teammates Sol Mercado and Japeth Aguilar finished the job as the Barangay finally got a win against the Hotshots in their "Manila Clasico" semis.

"I'm thankful that we won and I was able to play. It felt good," Devance, who finished with six points and six rebounds, said about the win.

With his mere presence already an inspiration for Ginebra as the club averted a 0-3 hole, Devance vowed that he will be ready to answer the call come Game 4 on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, where the team will try to tie the series at 2-all, even if it may mean further damage to his injured foot.

"I'm gonna play for sure," he reassured.

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