WILL Joe Devance’s magic continue to work wonders for Barangay Ginebra?
Coach Tim Cone hopes so going into Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series between the Kings and the Star Hotshots, although he still remains concerned with the plantar fasciitis the 34-year-old Fil-Am has been nursing in his left foot.
The Ginebra mentors was vocal in admitting the return of Devance to active duty has been a big boost to the team as it won the last two games of the best-of-seven series to level things up at 2-2.
On just how long the veteran big man could play through the injury, Cone has no idea, although the Kings need Devance’s physical presence on the court even for just a few minutes if they are to keep their momentum going in the semis.
“He’s given us an emotional lift anytime. Guys are looking at him and see what he’s doing, he’s sacrificing himself,” said Cone of the player he coached in the three different teams he handled in the league, namely Alaska, Star, and Ginebra.
“I think that’s just elevates our chemistry and teamwork.”
Devance suited up for eight minutes in the Kings’ 93-86 win in Game Four Wednesday. He finished with four points and a rebound while going 2-of-3 from the field.
But he was unable to return in the second half as his injured foot began to hurt after the effect of the anesthetic injection he took before the game began to wear off.
Cone later accepted the blame, saying he overextended Devance’s playing time which he initially planned to be just within four to six minutes as the case was in Game Three.
“The more active you are when you take anesthetics, the faster it wears off. I think I overplayed him a little bit in the first half,” said the multi-titled mentor.
“I think that kind of blew it for us. He couldn’t come out in the second half and couldn’t play anymore.”
Cone said such would not be the case for Friday’s game at the Mall of Asia Arena, where he’ll make sure to pace the injured big man, who he describes as nothing but ‘a team guy.’
“He always has been a team guy,” he said of Devance. “So the way he’s doing now, we’re just gonna play it day by day with him, getting some rest, send a therapist home with him and keep an eye on him all night, get another injection before Game Five and we’ll see what we can do.”