IF there's one reason that led to Ginebra's 74-78 loss to Star in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Thursday, it could be the absence of Joe Devance.
Mark Barroca said the Hotshots simply pounced on the veteran's absence in the pulsating victory that gave them the perfect start to the best-of-seven series.
"Si Joe 'yung isa sa mga leaders diyan e, siya yung nagco-control ng tempo," said Barroca of Devance, who played for Purefoods before he was traded to Ginebra.
"'Yun 'yung ginagawa niya samin dati. Parang point guard yan e, nagbabasa ng laro."
Sidelined by a torn plantar fascitis on his left foot, Devance sat out Game One and is expected to miss at least the first half of the semifinal playoff.
Each game that he's out will be to Star's advantage, Barroca said.
"Malaking advantage sa amin na wala si Joe, pero mahirap pa rin kalabanin Ginebra kasi yung crowd di ba?" he said.
Riding the crest of a seven-game win streak, Star will come out swinging in Game Two on Saturday, Barroca vowed.
"Thank God nakuha namin yung momentum. Basta nagtutulungan lang kami sa mga little things," said Barroca.