WHAT was supposed to be a nifty, veteran play for Beau Belga turned out to make Joe Devance look good when the Rain or Shine enforcer threw the ball to the Ginebra utility man that was intended to bounce the ball out of bounds, only for the latter to catch it and score an easy floater.
That’s how you know it’s the Gin Kings’ night as they shrugged off a late Elasto Painters rally to roll to an 88-80 win for Game One of their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal series on Monday night.
“Does that count as a steal for me or rebound or anything like that?” Devance asked with a smile after the game.
It was definitely a steal that the Filipino-American cager capitalized as it translated into a floater that gave the Gin Kings an 85-74 lead with a little over two minutes left.
“Yes! I mean, I'm just joking,” Devance said of his steal. “I mean that was a smart play, it just kinda backfired that time right? So that was pretty crazy though.”
In just his third game back after recovering from offseason foot surgery, Devance continued to pick up from where he left off last season as he scored 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, five assists, four boards, and one steal in almost 38 minutes – a game after playing nearly 50 minutes also against ROS last Friday.
“You know, my knees are hurting a bit so again I just try to do whatever I can to help the team so whatever it takes,” Devance said.
The 36-year-old cager is primarily the anchor of the Gin Kings’ defense.
“Just get stops, that’s my focus,” Devance said of his mentality during that 12-0 run. “Beau Belga had a pretty good game. I just had to lock in a little bit. Beau's a great player – I give him a lot of credit from where he started to now, he's progress a lot – so I had to really focus a lot on my defense and just that's it, one stop at a time and just play defense.”
And expect the Gin Kings to be even more formidable on defense when he rounds out to top shape.
“I'm not yet a hundred percent so I'm just hoping we can kinda grind out wins so that each day that passes you know I just get little better,” Devance said. “I'm hoping again we can get this next game just to give me more time to get back in the shape, get my knees right, get my legs right so we'll see.”