THE return of Joe Devance wasn’t an instant pick-me-up for San Mig Coffee, but the forward vowed to push even harder despite a recent injury as the Mixers enter the final stretch of the elimination round.
Just two weeks after hyperextending his knee, the 6-foot-7 forward made a surprise comeback, scoring four points in 14 minutes of play in a 100-105 loss to Barako Bull on Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But Devance declared he’s willing to do everything to help boost the Mixers’ suddenly precarious campaign — the loss was the San Mig’s sixth in 11 outings, dropping them to the lower half of the standings.
“Originally, I was supposed to be out for another week. But I told coach (Tim Cone) I was okay. I got cleared a day before the game. I didn’t play that much but I felt good (playing),” Devance told Spin.ph just before the team’s regular practice at the Ronac gym in San Juan on Monday afternoon.
Devance injured his knee in a game against Meralco on March 15 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo and the Mixers split their next two games without the forward — a loss to Air21 before a win against league-leading Alaska.
He admits the Mixers are on a roller-coaster ride in the Commissioner’s Cup, a conference they won last season by beating Talk 'N Text in seven games in the Finals.
The University of Texas-El Paso product said their on-and-off performance this conference merely reflects what they do in practice.
“I think we haven’t had a solid week of practice for whatever reason,” said the 30-year-old Devance. “I don’t know. But it’s hard for me to sit out and me not playing and just sitting out. We’re losing and we’re not practicing that good.”
San Mig has three games left in the two-round elimination: against Talk ‘N Text on Wednesday, Air21 on April 10 and Meralco on April 13.
“Honestly, these (last three games) depend on all of us. Depends on how San Mig Coffee’s gonna play. It’s kind of up in the air now. But definitely, we can’t lay down on any team now.
“If we play hard and run our triangle (offense) and play team defense, there’s no team that can stop us,” he added.