Only about 60 percent recovered from a knee injury, Joe Devance is not actually healthy enough yet to troop into battle for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
But he was left with no other choice, as his five teammates have gone down with different injuries.
Aside from guard Sol Mercado (knee), Greg Slaughter (left ankle), Japeth Aguilar (calf), and Jervy Cruz (bone spur) are down for the usually towering Ginebra frontline, leaving the responsibilities down low to Prince Caperal, Raymond Aguilar and import Justin Brownlee before Devance rejoined them.
“I’m probably like sixty-percent.
“My knees are pretty bad right now – my left knee and my left foot. Actually, one of the doctors suggested I get surgery but I really wanna do everything I can to not get surgery. I’m just trying to figure out a way to help the team win,” said Devance.
Advised to rest, Devance still forced his way to help the severely shorthanded Ginebra squad as early as thir game against the Blackwater Elite on Friday despite just having a one-day practice.
“It was a few days ago, Japeth got hurt in practice. He got hurt so I was like, ‘Oh man! We don’t have any bigs, it’s just Prince.’
“So I just tried in practice and see how I feel. I just told coach (Tim Cone) that if I can get through it, I’ll do whatever I can to get through it,” the 11-year pro added.
Fortunately for him, Devance’s sacrifice paid off, as he dropped 17 big points on top of two rebounds and seven assists to provide a lift from remaining starters LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Brownlee.
Devance deflected the credit on his other teammates, though, especially to Aljon Mariano and Caperal, who made the most out of the opportunity given to them by mentor Cone.
“I’m just proud of the guys. It’s all about the guys stepping up and they have been,” the 6-foot-7 utility forward added.
“It just gives them confidence and really just helping us get deeper so, it’s a blessing in disguise. We still have a lot of growing to do together so I’m proud of those guys.”
This win, according to Devance, is a testament to Gin Kings’ character amid a troubled time of having to play with only a short 10-man rotation whether in practice or in game proper.
“It feels good to get a win especially against San Miguel.
“I know they have some guys that are hurt too but, it’s pretty crazy how many injuries we have right now. It’s pretty amazing with just the things we are able to do right now. I mean it just shows that our team concept is coming in full effect so I’m proud of the guys,” he beamed.
As the season-ending conference progresses, the still banged-up Devance hopes for a full recovery along with the return of his injured teammates just in time for another deep playoff run for the three-peat seeking Gin Kings.
“I’m hoping I can get back to just at least playing a little bit better.”
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