IT pays to stick with a winner.
It does for Joe Devance, as he captured another PBA championship with coach Tim Cone.
After his rookie year at Welcoat, Devance has played for Cone ever since — three seasons at Alaska, at Purefoods for four seasons, then at Ginebra this year.
“I’m very lucky,” Devance said. “I’m fortunate to have played (almost) my whole career under coach Tim. I’m truly thankful for that.”
“He molded me into the player I am, so I’m thankful,” said the 2007 No. 1 pick, who couldn’t seem to stand being apart from Cone and there were rumors that he was hardly enthusiastic to play for the Hotshots following the departure of Cone, leading to the Filipino-American cager being traded.
The 34-year-old Devance now has seven championships, tied for fourth among active players, the same as James Yap and PJ Simon, and behind Rafi Reavis, who has the most with 10 titles, and eight-time champions Marc Pingris and Danny Seigle, according to league statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
While playing for the league’s most successful coach certainly boosts a player's chances of winning, Devance has also put in the hard work to get to where he is. The 6-foot-7 forward underlined his significance to the Gin Kings when he scored the go-ahead basket in Game Four of the Governors’ Cup Finals that was mostly remembered for Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa’s vintage performance.
But Devance plays down his starring role.
“No, I’m not the lucky charm,” he insisted. “It’s really just coach Tim. He just knows how to get the team to play together. Just chemistry-wise, he knows how to have everybody just play as a team, and that’s really the key.”
Bagging the crown in the season-ending tournament was another blessing for Devance this year after welcoming their fourth baby last July, making up for the tragedy that befell his family when his father and namesake passed away last March.
Devance only hopes it’s the start of dynasty for the league’s most popular team.
“Hopefully, (the future looks) good,” he said. “It’s still too early to tell, it’s just one championship, but we’re going to work hard to bring another one to this organization soon, so we’ll see what happens.”