JOE Devance said he doesn't mind staying in the shadows of star San Mig Coffee teammates James Yap, Marc Pingris, PJ Simon, and Mark Barroca.
The way he's playing, the versatile Mixers forward is bound to steal the show.
On Wednesday, Devance underscored his status as the X factor of the Mixers in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Rain or Shine as he provided the key baskets down the stretch that resulted in the 77-76 victory and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
While it was the Mixers' defense that preserved the morale-boosting win, it was Devance's endgame offense that proved vital as he scored the Mixers’ last four points, giving his team the lead for good at 75-74, before scoring the insurance points at 77-74.
“It wasn’t really about taking over. I just found my spots,” said the former top overall pick, who finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 13 points on top of four assists and one steal in 34 minutes.
“They were playing good defense on me the whole game, and I just picked my spots and was able to get open. That was it.”
“I think I just got lucky,” Devance added. “Some stuff was going my way, so I was lucky in that way and just thankful that we got the win.”
He may be downplaying his performance, but not his coach.
“He’s the most underrated player in the PBA,” Tim Cone said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt. People don’t give him credit for all the things that he does for us.”
“He does a lot more than what comes out in the stats,” the American mentor added of Devance, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on the same day.
“It was a great present, but it’ll be a greater present if we could win this championship,” admitted the eight-year PBA veteran. “Just winning this game is not good enough. I’m happy, but I’m not content ‘til we win the championship.”